Double Dose of Gertie for National Sisters Day

Ever since my sister passed away, I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been looking for a sign. Something to indicate that even though she isn’t with us anymore, things will be okay. Other friends and family had been posting their own stories about signs they had been receiving. And although I have been receiving plenty of reminders of Beth every day, I was still feeling lost. Until last weekend when a double dose of Gertie gave me the signs I was looking for.

Bringing My Sister Home

Spherical memory glass with a pink and purple swirls and a blue base that looks like ocean waves.

The last week of July was a really difficult one for me. My family was able to pick up the items that we’d ordered for my sister’s ashes.  In addition to a teardrop-shaped pendant to wear as a necklace. we designed a spherical piece of memory glass.  Pink and purple were two of her favorite colors, and they’re swirled in the Galaxy design. Beth would never miss the opportunity to sit under the stars to watch a meteor shower, and it seemed fitting to represent how she’s forever watching over us now. It is sitting on an ocean blue wave wrap;  my sister was a quintessential water child.  Simpy mention the word beach and she would be ready to go. It all came together in a piece that is as vibrant as she was.

Two-page layout of a photo book with images of Theresa's sister and family members.

A few days later (exactly 12 weeks to the day after her passing), the test run of the photobook I designed of her life arrived from Picaboo.  For her 30th birthday, I had made a photobook of her life up to that point, and Picaboo worked with me to re-open that project in their system and update it with pictures from the next five years.  Even though this book was something I had personally worked on for weeks, I completely broke down when it arrived.  How could I be holding my sister’s entire life in my hands? I completely broke down that night; it was the worst I had been since the days immediately after she had died.

A Double Dose of Gertie

The Dinosaur

Twitter has always been the social media where I’ve felt the most myself.  It was the one place I felt comfortable sharing how much I was struggling that evening. I included the pictures of the memory glass and photobook, so I expected to have responses ranging from people commenting on the items or saying they were thinking of me.  But I was completely caught off guard by the response I received the next day, by someone who doesn’t follow me and that I’d never interacted with before.

Now, many of you know this about me, but for those of you who don’t: The Gertie the Dinosaur ice cream stand at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite things on the planet. You can see the reasoning behind why if you scroll down on the About Theresa page.  Also relevant is that the last picture I took of just me and Beth is us with Gertie in the background.   Luckily I’d called out of work that day for a mental health day, because immediately upon reading the tweet, the tears started streaming again.  He sent a follow up message that the time that he saw the rainbow and decided to take the picture was 5:03PM; Beth had passed away on May 3rd.

The Character

The next day, a group of friends invited me to go to the Orioles game with them.  Despite the horrible season they are having, I’m still always up for heading to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to see a game.  I decided I wanted to wear the pendant with my sister’s ashes for the first time, so I slipped it on a chain I had at home and went off to enjoy the game.

View of the baseball field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards just before sunset with the clouds a shade of pinkI love all of the between inning games that happen throughout the ballgame.  My friends and I usually make random guesses before the game begins of what the results will be: will mustard beat out ketchup and relish in the hot dog condiments race? Will the ball be hidden under the left crab instead of the center or right? But our favorite has always been Guess the Year.  Fans are given three hints to figure out what the year will be. It always starts with a piece of pop culture trivia and that night’s was: “Stephen Spielberg’s film E.T. made it’s debut in theatres.”

My heart started beating out of my chest.  I knew the answer instantly. Because in 1982, year E.T. was released, also happened to be the same year Beth was born. The movie also stars a young Drew Barrymore – who happens to play a character named Gertie.

Yep, y’all guessed it. The tears started flowing again.

Continuing to Move Forward

I’ll be completely honest. Part of the reason I was anxiously awaiting some kind of sign was because I was hoping it would bring me a sense of peace. That Beth’s spirit is still in the world and with me. And both of those moments did bring me an immense amount of comfort.  Followed by several more days of crying.  I know my heart will always carry some amount of pain where her smile would normally be.  But this double dose of Gertie did restore something that I was worried I would never have again.  I now have assurance that Beth and I still have new memories we can make together. And I can’t wait for the next one.

Theresa and her sister smiling at the camera in front of Gertie the Dinosaur

Theresa is a Maryland native who is grateful to only be a 2-hour flight from Walt Disney World. She loves exploring new locations & cuisines, and can beat anybody in a game of “Oh! You know what else that actor was in?” Although myopic macular degeneration is deteriorating her eyesight, it hasn’t dampened her spirit or sense of humor; she likes to tell people this simply makes her a “temporary visionary.” Visit About Theresa to learn more or send an email to!

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