Submitted by Suzanne Giesemann
January 2012

Susan_and_SuzanneSuzanne was proud of her accomplished career in the navy, but after witnessing firsthand the destruction during the terrorist attack on 9/11, the importance of life really hit home. Experiencing a shift in her priorities she learned, as so many others did, not to take life for granted. It was then that she made the choice to retire along with her husband, Ty, who had also enjoyed a distinguished career in the navy. Military service was in fact a family affair. Suzanne’s step-daughter, Susan, had chosen a career in the Marines where she met and married her husband, Warren. Service and commitment infused the very fiber of their beings yet they never lost sight of the importance of loved ones. Family meant everything.

Suzanne and Ty were thrilled to be sailing the oceans of the world on their own time. Their home away from home was a 46-foot sailboat dubbed, Liberty. How appropriate considering the freedom they now felt to indulge the passion they both shared. It was during a relaxed trip, destination Venice, when a tragedy occurred that would prove to be the catalyst for a life-changing transformation. Suzanne and Ty were devastated when their son-in-law Warren informed them of the inconceivable events that led to Susan’s untimely death. Following is an excerpt from her book “Messages of Hope.”

On a sunny June day my step-daughter Susan was taken from us by a bolt of lightning that came out of the blue. My husband Ty and I had been sailing in the Mediterranean when we received the devastating news. Returning to our sailboat in Croatia and adjusting to life without Susan the week after her funeral was difficult. I filled the empty moments by reading several books about life after death that I’d bought on the way to the airport.

The next morning we got under way and headed south, anxious to leave Croatia and our bad memories behind. By then, I had finished one book and began the second book to which I’d been led. I’d read books by mediums in the past, but always out of mere curiosity. Now I read with growing excitement the seemingly irrefutable evidence that life doesn’t end with the death of the physical body.

Two days into our southerly passage, I’d finished most of book number two. I sat in the cockpit reading the final pages as Ty manned the helm.

“Hey, Suzanne,” he said.

I looked up.

“Have you noticed the yellow butterfly that’s been following us for the past two days?”
I looked aft and spotted it. In fact, I had noticed it, but lost in my thoughts, I hadn’t paid attention. Now I realized how unusual it was to see a butterfly so far out on the water. I glanced at the shoreline, a thin blue line in the distance. The nearest land was a good four miles away.

“I wonder what it’s doing way out here,” I said.

“Kind of strange,” Ty said.

I went back to my book, and there, on the very page I’d been reading when Ty interrupted me, was a message straight from heaven.

“My God,” I said for the second time in a week, “listen to this . . . .”

I read aloud the author George Anderson’s timely claim that “signs from the Infinite Light can often be right under our noses . . . as subtle as a tiny butterfly in December.”
Ty blinked in surprise, looked aft, and said, “Or on the Adriatic Sea?”
I went on to read aloud Anderson’s story of a woman who began seeing ubiquitous yellow butterflies shortly after the death of her son. At that moment, the butterfly that had fluttered back and forth in our wake for two days drew even with the cockpit where we sat, then flew directly between Ty and me before heading for shore.

Was it a coincidence? A fluke of nature? If so, then so was the swarm of yellow butterflies that hovered overhead as we arrived at the island of Mljet later that day. Six other boats lined the sea wall beside us, yet ours was the only one with the yellow winged visitors who made their presence known for half an hour on that very special evening.

The next day, rather than get under way right away, Ty and I set out on a hike. A winding path led through thick woods to the island’s highest point. Still dazed and numb from Susan’s death, we walked in silence. Instead of staring at my feet, I stared pointedly at the trail ahead. By then I’d read dozens of accounts in books describing wispy figures that appeared to those who were grieving. As we trudged upward, I willed Susan to make her presence known to me.

Higher and higher we climbed, and with each step I grew more despondent. Why couldn’t I sense her? Surely all the miraculous stories I’d read pointed to some kind of existence after death. We reached the summit and turned to retrace our steps. Ty walked on ahead of me now, a good fifty yards down the trail. Discouraged, but not defeated, I continued my efforts. “Susan,” I prayed, “please give me some kind of sign that you’re around. We so desperately need to know that you’re not gone forever.”
Knowing what I know now about the spirit world, I can just picture Susan at that moment. I’m sure she was shaking her head at me, laughing, and saying, “Haven’t you noticed all the butterflies I’ve been sending you?”

Susan was laughing because just then, a flicker of movement from the left caught my attention. I turned my head and saw a yellow butterfly with a red dot on its back flying straight at me. It arrived at my side, flew a complete circle around me, then bounced straight into my chest at the level of my heart. I stopped in my tracks and watched, stunned, as the butterfly then flew in a direct line down the trail toward Ty. Incredulous, I called out his name. The shock in my voice caused him to stop and turn. The butterfly had reached him by then, and I watched as it flew a complete circle around him, as well, before bouncing into what would have been his chest had I not caused him to turn so suddenly. As it was, the butterfly touched him right at the level of his heart, before flying off into the woods.

I stood rooted in place, awestruck, and reviewed the unusual events of the past two days: the butterfly that accompanied us for two days at sea, the special swarm around our boat, and now a butterfly that flew a specific and meaningful path, as if being guided. I may be a bit slow at times, but I finally got it. I wasn’t able to sense Susan’s spirit directly, but somehow—perhaps with the assistance of more experienced helpers on the other side—she’d been sending us signs in direct answer to my prayers. I continued down the trail, my steps a bit lighter. There was no doubt in my mind that something spiritual was going on and that Susan was behind it.

For Suzanne, her transformation began after refusing to believe someone as vibrant, passionate and loving as her step-daughter Susan could just simply cease to exist. What really happens to the spirit, the soul of an individual? Searching for answers Suzanne sought out a medium who uncannily described Susan, whom she had never met nor did she know anything about. With a background similar to a scientist, Suzanne had always looked at things in black and white. Shades of gray had never before existed in her mind. This changed everything. After experiencing her own after-death communications with the step-daughter she loved so much, Suzanne felt the peace and comfort in the knowledge that our spirits live on, one day to be reunited. One step at a time Suzanne began a journey that has forever changed her life.

Excerpted from the book Messages of Hope by Suzanne Giesemann, available from or wherever books are sold.