All About the Memorial Fund
Contributions From Travis
One Year Later
Ten Years Later
Letters to Jessie
Poems by Jessie's
"Coincidence is God's way
of remaining anonymous" Albert Einstein
Ever since that horrible day, the one thing that her family has
wanted very badly is some kind of evidence, some proof that Jessie still existed
in some realm.... and that they would be reunited with her one day.
Many, many things occurred over the next months and years which
individually may not be too convincing - but when combined together seem to
present a strong case for Jessie trying to send us some reassurance.
May of 1999:
June and July:
Within a week of the accident:
has an encounter with a butterfly, and feels peace from Jessie
paper is offered for the funeral program
butterfly lands on the tent during the burial service
next day, Jessie's parents are begging for a sign at the cemetery; a butterfly
appears and stays with them until they leave
very next day a butterfly meets her parents at the gate to the cemetery, flies
in with them and stays the entire time at the grave
third day, the butterfly meets them at the car, flies into the cemetery beside
them and stays for the entire visit.
In the following months:
While visiting at the
cemetery, Jessie's dad asked for a sign - a butterfly and a bee (Jessie's
nickname at home was "B") both came
and "sat" with him.
While on a soul-searching visit to the Grotto with Jessie's
parents, a butterfly lands on Father Rob's shoulder.
Jessie's parent's counselor, and a good friend of Jessie's both
report being "dive-bombed" by a butterfly until they acknowledge it by
saying "Hi Jessie".
Jessie's aunt and uncle have several unusual encounters with
butterflies: one travels with them several miles out into the ocean while
on a whale watch; one flies around the entire warning track with them at Fenway
Park; one lands first on her uncle's golf club while attempting to golf - then
lands on his hand; then on the uncle's birthday (same birthday as Jessie's dad),
a butterfly lands on his hand while he is umpiring a softball game - stays for
an entire inning.
Jessie's parents made donations in Jessie's honor to several
charities, afterward a butterfly lands on Jessie's mom.
While visiting family out of town at Easter, Jessie's family
attends mass. The pastor (who had never met the family before) tells a
story of a young girl who saves a butterfly in a plastic egg - the child's name
in the story was Jessie.
At the first memorial volleyball tournament there were literally
hundreds of butterflies in attendance all day - one of which
"dive-bombs" Jessie's parents.
There is a butterfly bed in the Pottery Factory catalog - it is
called "The Jessica Bed".
On Mother's Day 2002 - another difficult day - while Jessie's
parents were riding from one set of grandparents to the other, they spotted
literally 50 or more butterflies all in one spot near a creek in Berryville,
VA...it was a welcome sign from someone who is so sorely missed:
I went for a walk at lunchtime. When I
got to the woods I went on a path
that goes by the lake (I've walked there many times at lunch). I stopped
and just watched the lake for a few minutes and was thinking a lot about
Jessie and our trips to Rocky Gap. I thought about Jessie and Susie on the
boat and how it tipped over and just how, in general, it was good for her
and all of us. I walked a little further down the path and was really
thinking about Jess and was on the verge of tears...just then a black
butterfly flew right in front of me and then away...in the direction I had
come. I know that's not that unusual but it made me stop and say to myself
"What does that mean...Jessie is that a sign from you?" Right then, the
butterfly that had flow out of sight, came back from the direction where it
had gone, and flew right in front of me. It made me cry...it was like it
said, "Yes, I am a sign." Both times it flew within an inch or so of me.
After a minute or so, I starting walking again...then I wondered was it a
sign or simply a butterfly in the woods doing what it does naturally.
I walked back to the office and saw Pat W in the parking lot. He used to
work for SCIENTECH but now he works upstairs for Johnson Controls. Anyway,
he said he had been waiting for about 1/2 hour for his daughter to pick him
up for lunch. (For the past 3 years, his daughters have reminded me the
most of Jessie of anyone's children in our office...especially one of his
daughters that plays basketball and softball. Not because of looks but just
because of the ages and activities and his involvement with them.) His
phone rang while we were talking and he could see that it was her phone
number on his cell...so I said something like "Hi Dad, I'm running a little
late." Right when I said "Hi Dad..." a huge butterfly flew by us. I see
butterflies out there all the time, but it made me wonder.
In October 2004, Jessie's
cousin Erin got married to Scott. This was the first family wedding
since Jessie's death. While we were all so happy for the lovely couple,
the awareness of all that would never happen for Jess was sharp and painful...
but Jessie made her presence known once again. The pastor was new to the
church, so had not traveled the earlier grief journey with the family and had
no knowledge of the significance of butterflies - yet this was the stole he
chose to wear that day:
"I wanted to send you the pictures that I talked to
you about, Aunt Susie. I had been telling Erik about Jessie when we were
hiking down the trail to the climbing spot and when we got there and set up
all of our gear, there was a pair of persistent butterflies that kept hovering
around us and alighting on all of our climbing gear...our helmet, the
backpacks and the quickdraws. They stayed with us all day climbing and I
thought of you and your family on and off the whole time. I thought you might
like the pictures."
October, 2005 - Dear friends
were in New England celebrating their anniversary. October in New
England is not when one would expect to see butterflies - but they came back
reporting a day spent in the constant company of butterflies and feeling the
presence of Jessie. They were able to capture a beautiful shot:
August 2006 - On the occasion
of the 7th anniversary of Jessie's accident, Jessie's uncle received the
following note and picture. What makes this all the more amazing is
the fact that these people never met Jessie, didn't know her parents - and
had just met Uncle Doug...
I want to let you know
that on Monday October 8, 2007 the day I signed the guest book my children,
Sean (6 years)& Brendan (2 years) went to the backyard at 4 p.m. and noticed 5
butterflies flying around them. Later I went outside and Sean told me he saw a
butterfly land on my leg, but I didn't see it land on me. On Tuesday October
9, 2007 we went to the backyard again at about the same time and noticed three
butterflies flying around us & the tree. When one of the butterflies landed on
the tree I touched it & said hi Jessica and instead of flying away it stayed
for a moment. We usually don't get butterflies in our yard, but maybe one or
two every so often. I find this is to be a unique situation with the
butterflies especially to occur shortly after I signed the guest book. Please
feel free to e-mail me. God Bless You!
Sunday, 2/24/08 - I
was researching a project for my 10 year old son's Tiger Woods poster.
Google's search engine brought me here...
I was so touched and fascinated by your story and your experiences and
coincidences after that tragic day. I asked my husband to come over to read
over my shoulder. As we were reading the coincidences, my one year old
daughter, Kaia Lin, came up to us and said, "Butterfly." In her hands was a
beanie baby butterfly. Daddy said, "I've never seen that toy before." Again,
Kaia Lin said, "Butterfly." When I asked her if that was Jessie she said,
"Yes, Jessie." My husband asked, "Did we say the word butterfly out loud?"
"No, I didn't," I answered back. I immediately waved my hand in the air and
said hello to your beautiful angel, Jessie. My husband who is very tough to
shake, was thoroughly shaken. Tears are welling up in my eyes as I share this
with you. I took a picture of Kaia Lin and the butterfly she was hugging but
don't know how to attach it here. Your family is in my prayers. Thank you for
your inspiration, your courage and your belief in God and heaven above.
Attached are the pictures I took yesterday of Kaia Lin holding the
butterfly. The story doesn't end there. Kaia Lin is having a really hard
time falling asleep lately.
Needless to say, last night she slept with Kevin and me in our bed. As
she was fighting sleep but slowly dozing off, she made the sign language
sign for butterfly right over her heart. "Butterfly, butterfly," she
said. "Is that Jessie?" "Yes. Butterfly. Jessie."
I had one more
thing to share...
This afternoon I shared our experience this past
weekend between Kaia Lin and Jessie with my sister who resides in
California. As soon as I had finished, my sister softly said, "There's is
a butterfly on the ground right next to me. It flew to that spot when you
first mentioned Jessie's name to me. It's been here this whole time."
(Approximately 5 minutes or more). She, like my husband, is not easily
shaken and this pretty much blew her away.
Your Jessie is amazing and I am again so touched
that she's blessed our family with her presence repeatedly over the last
48 hours. What she is doing, helping people believe or find hope where it
was once lost perhaps, is amazing.
senders of this story don't know - is that this is the exact butterfly that is
in Jessie's bedroom:
I was playing golf a while ago with friends of mine that
were crucially important to me while I dealt with Jessie's passing. We
never take the game too seriously but for some reason this particular game was
kinda intense. I was putting on the ninth hole (we don't play the full
18) and was one stroke from finishing under par and winning; both were a
first. After some good natured but nerve racking comments from my
friends I was almost guaranteed to miss. I was about to say f@#! it and
take the shot when a butterfly landed on my ball. I waited for it to fly
off and was able to regain my composure. I won. First and only
time. Jessie and I unfortunately weren't that close so I didn't think to
much of it then, however after visiting your memorial website and reading all
of the "coincidences" how could I not make the connection. I didn't
realize how much I miss her. I'm actually teary eyed writing this.
Just wanted to share and let you know I love and miss you, don and brad.
Michelle didn't know was that at the time of her writing this note on facebook
- Jessie's parents were actually at the cemetery for the annual fall memorial
mass - a bittersweet and emotional service... it was so incredibly nice to
come home to this story...
were at the top of the hill when my husband looked down as he was walking and
said "you wanna grab that?" We typically pick up pieces of things
now and then that may blow around up there. It was a blue string and the
remains of a light blue balloon with the special "Happy 31st
Birthday" tag on it, as well as the website. I told him it wasn't just a
piece of trash and I grabbed my phone to check out the website. So
The property across the street, which has the creek running through it, in the
summer, is home to hundreds of thousands of butterflies, daily, because of the
various types of flowers down there. All different kinds. When you walk the
trails, it is sometimes breathtaking to watch their beauty flying and swooping
around you-everywhere. My kids love watching them and trying to catch them, as
well as our dogs. I read how special butterflies are to you and how much she
loved them, that's the only reason I'd share that.
am 37 with 4 kids....I couldn't imagine what you've gone through. I cry as I
type this to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish you and your
family peace and love.
All the coincidences are not
On August 27, 2000 the word for the day on a Jewish daily
calendar was "Yahrtzeit", which has the definition: "One year anniversary of the death of a
In 8th grade Jessie wrote an autobiography. In one chapter
she was to describe herself at the age of 25. She wrote that she would be
an actress and would be starring in a television show called "That's
Life". In the fall of 2000 a new series started by that name.
Regular airtime: Saturdays, 9pm EST (CBS)
Directors: Jim Frawley, Christopher Monger, Rob Thompson
Producers: Anita Addison, Maddy Horne, Frank Renzulli
Cast: Heather Paige Kent, Ellen Burstyn, Paul Sorvino, Debi Mazar,
Kristen Bauer, Peter Firth, Kevin Dillon
After taking the subway to the wrong part of town, and getting
lost, Jessie's mom, dad and brother got off the train. The only thing of color in the drab scene was a huge sign that
"If You Are Waiting For
A Sign From God, This Is It"!
Jessie's younger cousin, Vinny, at age three was visiting the
cemetery with his parents. On his own, he laid down in the snow and began
flapping his arms and legs... His parents report that they had never taught him
to make a Snow Angel:
On December 24, 2002, the Murphy's got a call from Susie and
Candice - Jessie's best friend and her sister. They had been at St. John's
earlier that evening for Christmas Eve mass. Candice had picked up her
hymnal, and it happened to be one dedicated to Jessie from her Aunt Lisa and
Uncle Doug. Then Susie picked up her hymnal and it was one dedicated to
Jessie from her family. Talk about coincidences - there are only 9 of
those hymnals in the whole church - a church of over 4,000 families!
On December 23, 2003,
Jessie's mom was alone in the car. As she was driving she had a
whimsical thought: Wouldn't it be really nice if she had enough money
to rent a sky-writing plane for Christmas Day. It would be so great to
spend the day writing over and over in the sky, "Hi! I love you
and I am ok". It may not mean anything to some, but all bereaved
people would get a warm feeling. While thinking these thoughts,
Jessie's mom was gazing at the beautiful sunset. To her amazement,
slowly but surely, the letters J E S S appeared on the horizon. After
quickly parking the car, running into the store and purchasing a disposable
camera, this is all that was left of her gift from Jessie:
On October 1, 2005 - Jessie's
mom and dad had family visiting from Ireland. While walking through
downtown Frederick, they stopped in St. John's. One of the Irish cousins
pulled the hymnal out to leaf through it - and lo and behold, it was one of
Jessie's... Needless to say, everyone had goose-bumps and felt the
presence of both Jessie and cousin Helen's husband Pat:
October 29,2005 - Jessie's
parents went to watch the 2005 recipient of Jessie's scholarship play in a
volleyball tournament at Messiah College. Upon viewing the roster for
the Messiah Falcons, they once again were comforted by Jessie's persistence in
making her presence known - notice the name of the 6th player on the roster:
November 24, 2005 - This was
the first Thanksgiving that Jessie's mom and dad would be spending without
either of their children at home - Brad had recently moved to California and
wouldn't be coming home until Christmas. As was often the case, mom and
dad set out for a long walk in the morning to prepare themselves mentally for
the day. On the route they take, there is a spot in the woods where
cardinals are often seen, and deer are sometimes visitors too. Jessie's
mom usually pauses here in hopes of seeing something - encounters with nature
have a calming, even uplifting affect. Two cardinals appeared
immediately, but mom waited a little longer, hoping to see a deer too.
After a bit, resigned to not seeing deer this time, she walked on. Not
20 steps further down the path, a deer crossed right in front of her.
Then, a second deer came out of the woods, stood on the path not 10 yards
away, and stared at her. This went on for 15-20 seconds, when mom - with
goose-bumps - blew a kiss to the deer. At that point, the deer very
gracefully nodded its head, and with stately poise walked off into the woods.
December 24, 2006 - Continuing
a heartwarming 8 year tradition, Jessie's aunt, uncle and cousins were out
putting ribbons on trees in honor of Jessie's upcoming 22nd birthday. It
was late and dark while Jessie's aunt was tying her ribbons. Many of the
street lights were out so she was walking carefully and thinking of Jess.
At one of the few areas that was well lit Aunt Lisa tied her ribbon on the
trunk of the tree and then just stood there - unsure of what was compelling
her not to go on. She looked all around, and finally glanced down at her
feet - where there was a 5 dollar bill. Not a one or a ten or a twenty
-- but Jessie's favorite number - five. Surely another sign from Jess -
her way of thanking them for their selfless act of compassion.