A Special Birthday Wish from Above

I’ve never made a big deal about my birthday and have always preferred to keep it simple. I don’t need expensive gifts and I don’t really like surprise parties….well, not for myself anyway.

So why am I talking about my birthday now? Well….I decided to post this because it’s that time of year again, and it made me think of a special b-day wish I got on my birthday in 2007.

That first year of special occasions and holidays after Dave died was really, really tough. I became super emotional when a special occasion came up and thought about how he was gone and couldn’t celebrate with me.  He couldn’t wish me Merry Christmas, Happy Valentines Day, Happy Mothers Day or Happy Birthday.

After we lost Dave, there were a few of his personal items that were returned to me. His wallet, his broken watch (which is another story) and his phone. It took hours for friends, family and police to locate his phone at the accident scene. It was the one thing I really, really needed them to find. His phone held all of his contacts and he had spent a lot of time on it, so it was important that they find it for me.  And I was very happy that they did! For a long time after that, I kept that phone with me. I guess having it close made me feel like he was close. So at first I kept his phone in my handbag, then starting keeping it in my car. I also canceled my phone number and his became mine…

This was the phone Dave used to call his family on their birthdays and other occasions. April is actually a heavy birthday month for us with quite a few to celebrate and Dave’s sister Cathy’s birthday is on April 16, the day before mine.

Dave was always joking around and for all the years we had been together….a total of 11…when my birthday was approaching he would say, “When’s your birthday again? It’s the 16th right?” I’d just look him with my “Shut up. You’re gonna get it” look. And he would start laughing, and ask, “It’s the 16th right?”…He did that every, single year.

On April 17, 2007, the first birthday without Dave, I really didn’t feel like celebrating. I had planed to do something small only because I wanted Sierra to enjoy, to be happy and celebrate her mom’s birthday.

And then something cool happened.

I remember the exact road on which I had been driving on this sad, emotional day, when I heard an alarm sound off in my car. It was coming from the center compartment. I opened it and found that the alarm was coming from Dave’s cellphone.

This was the first time since the accident that it had made any sound.

When I opened it, I was surprised at what showed on the screen:

Dave's phone displaying "Lena's bday"

Dave's Phone

It was April 17, my actual birthday. I started laughing….I started crying. It totally made my day! I got a special birthday wish from Dave. That birthday was supposed to be the worst ever, but it turned out okay and one that I think about every year and will always remember. And every year, the memory brings a smile and a few tears….

Run Sierra Run!

Sierra gave up playing in her soccer game this past weekend! Hard to believe, but I’m totally serious!  She actually decided to run in a track meet at Kamehameha School here in Maui instead. I really wanted to post a video we took of Sierra running in her first relay race, the 400 Meter Relay. I ran in this race when I was a Freshman at Baldwin High School and our relay team was undefeated that year and we qualified for the State Meet. Track was so much fun! I was just as obsessed with it as Sierra’s is with soccer! Well….almost as obsessed. LOL!

Pic of Sierra and Lena in Track & Field

Sierra today and Me in high school track.

I know that Sierra will look at the photo above of us and say, “Oh mom! Really?!” But that’s okay LOL! And yep! I know I look like a dork! Look at those bangs! Hahaha!

Although this blog is sort of about me, sort of about Sierra, I created it for Dave and it should all relate him somehow right? Of course there are no rules really because it’s my blog. However, I still needed something, the link to Dave to make me feel that it was okay to post this great video on A David Story of “our Sierra”.

This morning I got that little something…a “sign”, if you will.

I woke up and did what I always do first thing every morning. I picked up my iPhone, checked my emails then Facebook and Twitter. Dave’s sister Mo (Maureen) watched the video of Sierra running and had just posted a reply to my post. Her comment immediately made me feel like Dave wanted me to share the video of his daughter running in her first track meet by posting it here on A David Story. Here is Mo’s comment on my Facebook post:


Sign from Dave: Facebook Comment from Mo

A phone call from "David" as Mo posts about Sierra's Track Video


It’s one of those really cool things and of course you have to believe in “hereafter”, life or existence after death, to “get it”.  And as they say, “timing is everything”.  And it is! Timing matters big time! The phone call from caller “David” coming in as Mo was commenting on Facebook (and I should add, Mo is RARELY on Facebook), was the reason she posted what she did and the reason I am sharing this.

A few hours later, Mo texted me this:

“I couldn’t believe the timing of the call. I actually started to cry. It’s even a new customer not an existing one. Never spoke to him before today! Coincidence…I don’t think so ”

Here is the video of Sierra running the 2nd leg of the 400 Meter Relay…her first time running this race.  They practiced passing the baton for the first time, just before the race! I believe that Dave wanted to me to share this on A David Story because he is just as proud of his daughter as I am.

Go Sierra! I’m still faster than you though! 🙂



If video doesn’t appear, here is the direct YouTube link:  http://youtu.be/htdAbueUVDY

Valentine’s “Loss” and Found

I wish I had known about blogging back in 2006.  I probably would have posted entries just about every day about my experience dealing with my loss.  Writing was a healing tool for me. It brought out the emotions and also brought comfort.  I actually emailed Dave thru his email address which I kept because it was my way of continuing to communicate to him.  It was also my way of keeping a journal of my journey through grief.  Besides emailing Dave I also wrote a few poems. The Maui Weekly had posted a poetry contest in 2007 for Valentine’s Day. Since I love contests and I had already written a few poems, I decided to enter one about Dave. It was titled, “What is a Soul Mate?”.  I didn’t win, but was a runner up and was thrilled with that!  Also being able to express my feelings through this poem was very beneficial to my healing process. I’d like to share it once again…..

What is a Soul Mate Poem

I remember that at the time, Valentine’s Day 2007, I thought about how lucky I had been to have found my soul mate in Dave and lived 11 wonderful years together.  Most people never get to experience being that close and connected with someone.  Once he had passed on, I thought about the possibility that this was going to be my life for the rest of my life.  Widowed and single.  And I was completely okay with that…in fact I didn’t feel the need or even want to become involved with anyone else. I had met my soul mate and that’s it…the end. Besides there so much more to life…..

I had mentioned to friends that IF I had met someone, they would have to be super special! I would be insanely picky because of what I had with Dave and because I still had Sierra to consider. She had to like him too! This guy would have to accept the fact that Dave would always be a part of our lives; that Sierra and I continue to celebrate special occasions related to Dave. He would have to be okay with the fact that we still speak about Dave on a regular basis and the memories are very important to us.  This guy would have to be extremely understanding, selfless, emotionally secure and many other things on my lengthy list.  There is NO WAY this guy exists on this planet. And….I’m totally fine with that.

But then I learned that he does exist.

A Special Pink Dahlia

"Love Happens"

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 2012. Five years after I first posted my poem, “What is a Soul Mate”, the holiday of love and romance has come around once again and has made me realize that maybe it is possible to have an amazing connection with someone else.

If Dave and Brad had met, I know they would have been the best of buddies. They have many things in common, but also many differences. And that makes it perfect. Somehow I feel like Dave had something to do with Brad and I connecting through a pink Dahlia flower. But that’s another story 🙂

I’d like to share the Valentine’s video surprise Brad had planned for me. It completely blew me away!  I am a lucky girl. Sierra is too. Dave was the ultimate love and support, our favorite guy. And now we have found another…..

Remembering a Special Anniversary

January 30, 1999 was the day Dave and I were married. We both decided to keep it very small and intimate and we had the ceremony and reception at the Kealani Hotel, in Wailea, Maui. We had been married for 7 years before Dave died in 2006.

The crazy thing…. is that in the 7 years after our wedding we never once remembered to celebrate our anniversary!  Not once! Not even the 1st anniversary! We both completely spaced it and remembered, I think, the following week. We had even kept a little of our wedding cake in the freezer to save for a bite on our 1st anniversary.  However, I don’t think we ate it because it was freezer-burned! LOL! Every year after that, we were always so busy!  In addition,with it being in January, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, Dave’s birthday being in the same month, and then having our daughter Sierra in late 2000….all caused us to forget our special day, January 30.

And oh, the irony of how things work sometimes. Now that Dave is no longer here in person to wish a Happy Anniversary…I have NOT forgotten January 30th.  I remember every year now.  And today is no exception.  Happy Anniversary Dave. I’ll be seeing you…..

To those who read this….remember to celebrate every occasion, celebrate every day, because…..you can.

Dave and Lena on Wedding Day

Dave and Lena, January 30, 1999


The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree Ever!

It was a week before Christmas in 2006. This would be our first Christmas without Dave.  The post office had just delivered a box from Dave’s sister, Mo, that I was about to open.  I was on the phone with my sister, Terri, chatting away as I used a pair of scissors to cut open the tape and pull open the box flaps.

“Eeeeouuw! What is THIS?! I can’t believe Mo actually bought this!”, I said to my sister on the phone. It was a silver tinsel tree!! Not a very attractive tree and definitely not one I would have picked to display in our home. I thought it was so weird that she bought us this ugly silver tinsel tree! Then, I saw the note.  The note I failed to notice because I was busy talking on the phone. The note was written with a black marker on the outside of the box.  It said, “Do not open until you get the small box!” Oops!

Do not open note

Pic of Michael

Dave’s nephew Michael 2008

The small box was delivered separately the next day so I had to wait until the next day to find out about this “lovely” silver tinsel tree.  There was a note on the outside of the small box that said, “Open this box before the large box”. Ummmm….LOL!

Inside the small box was a photo Christmas card of our nephew Michael, who at the time had Farrah Fawcett hair. (Sorry Michael…just couldn’t help myself) Inside the card, Mo had written about her idea for a special Christmas tree. And what a wonderful idea it was!

Tree infoIn years past, a silver tinsel tree was what Dave’s grandmother had put up during Christmas for all the grandkids to enjoy. Mo picked up trees for her parents, brother Jimmie, and sisters Cathy and Maryellen in remembrance of Dave. To make it extra special Mo included ornaments for our new David Tree…butterfly ornaments! How cool! We started off with 38 butterflies, for Dave’s age. Each year we add another butterfly to the David Tree. I’ve actually changed things up a little bit and added an extra butterfly so that we could also celebrate Dave’s birthday on January 4th with the number of butterflies for the age he would have been.

I’m not sure I’ll continue putting up a big Christmas tree or going all out in decorating every year. It’s a lot of work and Sierra is growing up so the need or motivation to keep the house “Christmassy” is sort of fading.  I do know, however, that the David Tree has become a Castles Family’s holiday tradition and that is one I will continue to carry out with pleasure. I love my David Tree and I think it’s the most beautiful tree, the most special tree ever!

This year we are adding butterfly #44.  Merry Christmas Dave and Happy Birthday soon!

Christmas 2012/Jan 4, 2013: Butterfly #45

David's Christmas Tree

Our David Tree


More to Come…..

I will be posting on a regular basis so please feel free to come back again.  I’ll be writing about life with Dave, what happened when he died, my experience in dealing with losing him, and how I managed both my grief and Sierra’s. I’ll also include many of the things that happened after he died…experiences that caused me to re-evaluate my non-existent spiritual beliefs.

Holiday Wishes and Silly Faces

Christmas card 2011

Happy Holidays!! See if you can find the 7 hidden references to Dave in the main photo

This last time I put together a Christmas card was in 2006, the year Dave died. Five years later, I decided it was time to do another. I also wanted to make it fun and special so I hid 7 references to Dave in the main photo.  See if you can find them first before checking out the answers below.

1. Teddy Bear:  A gift Dave gave Sierra for her 1st birthday in October 2001.  We call him “Daddy Bear”.

2. The #11 has special meaning to us.  Not only was it Dave’s “final number”, but it also appears quite often in our every day lives. Find the #11 on Daddy Bear’s left hand.

3. The #11 is also located on my right knee.

4. DC for Dave Castles is hidden on Sierra’s Santa hat.

5. DC is also hidden on the bottom half of Sierra’s top.

6. Have you heard the phrase “Pennies from Heaven”? We find pennies everywhere and have many cool stories about them. There is one included in this pic. Try to find this one on your own.

7. This one is probably the toughest…should I tell you?  Ok I will.  They are my wedding rings on a chain…a gift of love to be passed on in time….

Hope you enjoyed our little holiday card game.  Merry Christmas and may 2012 bring peace and happiness to all!