This is a continuation of the story started in the last blog entry, 47.Jill.
Bridget and I watched as Jill opened her laptop to reveal the homepage of her Ancestry.com account. She explained. “I paid to do an ancestry kit. I’ve always wondered about my heritage and wanted to learn more. I also agreed to share my DNA results with other users to see who I would be matched with or related to. And see these people?” Bridget and I looked intently at the screen as Jill scrolled through the users and their photos. She read their names aloud.
“I know these people,” Jill explained as she pointed to people’s photos and usernames appearing on the screen. “She’s my niece. This woman is my mom’s cousin. This is another relative of my mom’s.”
“Okay…” Bridget said, waiting for Jill to continue.
“But look at these people. Who the hell are all these poeple?” Jill asked exasperated. We listened as Jill read their names and scrolled through the webpage containing the list. “I’ve never heard of these people. This says that this guy is my cousin. And this lady is possibly my aunt. I’ve never heard of her. And look! This says that this woman is my half-sister! Who the hell IS this person?”
I looked at Bridget and Bridget looked at me. I think we both knew where this was headed.
“Are you able to see any matches with any of your dad’s side of the family?” I asked.
“No, not a single one,” Jill answered. “Maybe none have submitted their DNA or posted their results, but I have a lot of cousins on my dad’s side and I don’t see anyone related to my dad on here. But I have all of these people,” Jill said with a slight laugh of disbelief.
Bridget and I leaned over and took a closer look as Jill continued to scroll through her matches on the Ancestry account. We set our things down for a moment as we stared at the screen and exchanged looks with each other.
We looked at Jill who once again asked: “Who are all those people?”
I couldn’t help but say, “I don’t know. You tell us. You’re the psychic.” We all chuckled for a second and Jill explained that it doesn’t work that way, and for a moment I felt badly about making a joke when she was clearly trying to grasp the likely truth.
Bridget finally spoke up. “If that woman is really being shown as your half-sister and you’re not matched with anyone on your dad’s side, then I’m going to guess that your dad is not your biological dad. All of these people are likely related to whomever that person is.” I nodded my head in agreement and looked at Jill as she sat back in her chair, her hands folded in her lap.
And after a moment, Jill opened up about how she always felt and looked different from other people in her family. How she knew her dad’s family were so heavily German, but yet she was confused when she saw that she had no German ancestry listed on her results. She showed us photos on her phone of her family and how she looks so differently from them. Jill shared stories about her dad–how close they were, how they adored each other, and how, if he knew this truth, he never once treated her like anything but his princess. She was his only daughter. Jill spoke of little memories that were popping up in her mind, and how now after all of these years, were beginning to make sense. We sat with her as her mind and heart cycled through disbelief to realization to acceptance and then to hope.
With such a genuine tone in her voice, Jill looked at Bridget and me. “Will you help me? Will you help me find out who these people are and who my biological father is? Now that I know, I really want to know more. I want to know the truth.”
“Absolutely,” Bridget quickly responded. We spoke a little while longer and parted ways, promising we’d be in touch. Jill gave us two things that day: clues about Cheryll’s case and a new mission of unraveling her own birth story.
Do you have friends that you don’t see as often as you’d like to, but when you do, it feels like you haven’t been apart? That’s how my friendship with Erin is. We and our husbands have been friends for years, but with the hustle and bustle of working, raising kids, keeping up with all the extras the kids do, and maintaining a household, we don’t see each other as frequently as we’d like to. So a couple times of year we get together– just the two of us– to have a lunch or a dinner to catch up. This time we agreed to meet on a Tuesday evening for dinner.
The Sunday before our dinner, as I was leaving church, I saw that I had a missed phone call and voicemail from Erin. It was odd because we don’t call each other much and Erin is definitely not one to call on a Sunday morning. Feeling a slight bit of concern, I immediately listened to the voicemail she left me.
After hearing the message, my concern evaporated and my initial thought was, “Yoga? That’s funny.” She surely was referring to herself doing yoga because I certainly do not do yoga.
Tuesday evening arrived and when we finally sat down together, we chatted, ordered drinks and food, and I said, “Okay, yoga. What’s up?” I’d been wondering what the story was and why the urgent call that past Sunday morning.
I listened intently as Erin began. “You know I believe you when you talk about encountering signs and getting physical feelings regarding Cheryll. I just can’t say that something like that has ever happened to me which makes this all the more strange.”
I responded with a simple, “okay,” as my attention was fixated on her, my science-minded friend, who was not one to really ever discuss spiritual happenings.
“So I was at yoga and as we got started, I was beginning the relaxation exercises and for some reason I pictured Cheryll’s face. I do that sometimes because I do think about her and her story and I like to use that quiet time to reflect on things. And while I had her on my mind, the sunlight coming in through the window reflected off of a crystal prism that was hanging in the room, and on my mat, a rainbow from the prism appeared. It wasn’t on anyone else’s mat and I thought, ‘ahh, that’s nice.'”
I smiled hearing this, imagining the scene in my mind as Erin continued.
“We went on with class and toward the end, the instructor explained that she was going to make a sound with a bowl as we did our final meditation. This was something that had never been done there before.” Erin described how a crystal bowl was on a table at the front of the room and the instructor used a mallet to hit the side of the bowl, followed by the mallet circling the rim of the bowl to make a unique sound.
“I can’t explain it other than I had an immediate aversion to the sound. It physically made me uncomfortable. At that same moment, as I had been picturing Cheryll’s face on the left-hand side of my vision, when the sound started, on the right-side, a man’s face appeared, and when Cheryll saw his face, her face immediately dropped and she dissipated to the left. And when she disappeared, it felt like I could feel her running away, like I was experiencing it and it clearly felt like she was saying, ‘I am out of here.’ I watched the whole scene almost like on a screen and I suddenly opened my eyes and sat up because I was so physically affected by it.”
I sat stunned for a moment, trying to process the story. “What does Cheryll’s face look like? What do you see when you see her?” I asked.
“It’s her school photo. I see her school photo when I think of her, but when she saw the man that smile in her photo faded and her whole expression changed to a look of fear before she disappeared.”
“Who was the man? What did he look like?” My mind was racing, as the questions continued.
“I saw him so clearly. He had dark hair and a thick, dark moustache. He almost looked like he could have been someone’s dad. He didn’t scare me until I saw Cheryll’s reaction. Does that make sense? Does any of this make sense? Beth, I cannot describe what happened. I’m still freaked out by it. I got to my car Sunday morning and was so freaked out by it, I had to call you. Please don’t think I’m crazy.” And as Erin spoke these words, I could hear the quiver in her voice and see the emotion in her eyes.
I assured her I didn’t think she was crazy. In fact, coming from her made it all the more believable. I continued, “I am just amazed, actually. And you know what I find eerie too? The fact that this happened on Sunday and we were scheduled to meet tonight, two days later. Of all the times for this to happen and of all the friends to have this experience, for me, it’s like Cheryll knew we were going to be seeing each other and she knows I’d believe it coming from you.”
“Who do you think that man is?“ Erin asked. “Have you seen any photos of the suspects? I’m telling you, Cheryll couldn’t get away from him fast enough.”
“I haven’t seen any photos. I’ve heard descriptions of those men though and this doesn’t match how they were described to me. But it’s so weird because this is the second time I’ve heard a description of a man like this.” Erin’s description matched the description of the man Jill had envisioned when we talked to her. Who was the man with the dark hair and mustache? Why was this description coming forward now, in these ways, after all this time? As I drove home from dinner that night, I found myself asking, “Who is this man, Cheryll? Who is it?” I had hope that the answer would be revealed in due time.