Award Winning Short-Story by Elizabeth Scavetta
This is the story my daughter Elizabeth wrote in 2003 just before her transition to spirit. She had entered the Caledon Library Teen Short-Story Contest and was over the moon that she won the contest. This was two months before she passed. The contest became The Elizabeth Scavetta Memorial Short-Story Contest for 18 years. It is now renamed as Elizabeth Scavetta Teen Writing Workshops. I hope you enjoy her story which speaks to me so deeply every time I read it.
It was one of those winters. Those winters where the defiant wind blew right through you, like it knew all your secrets. The trees shivered in the cold, amused, daring you to fight back. Their bony figures rocked in the wind, taking it while they could, until they’d admit that it was the wind that was the strongest. After a life of peaceful struggle, their weakened forms would kneel before their master, and collapse into the snow, dreaming of the endless slumber that awaited them. Just looking outside, you could feel their icy branches, like arms, wrap around your skin. Protecting you from the storm that was coming.
My mother got up from the window seat. The blue cushion, thick as a memory, inflated with the absence of her weight. She walked into the kitchen and selected a carton of milk from the fridge. She glanced around the room, taking in the sight of unopened mail on the counter, and the smell of buttered toast. Finally, she settled at the kitchen table, in front of yesterday’s newspaper. She sipped her tea and listened to the gusts of wind blowing past the windows and through the porch. She looked so peaceful. Quiet, but entirely content. I smiled at her, and then she looked at me.
“It’s gonna be a cold one today,” she said, looking out the window now. Her velvet voice soothed my spirits. I loved Saturday mornings in December, for reasons like this. We’d sit, warm and comfortable, eating our breakfasts and staring out at the snow. I would look at the trees, cradling families of snowflakes in their arms. I wondered if they envied us, warm in our pajamas and housecoats, on the other side of the glass. I thought they did.
“It’s a good day for staying inside, sitting in front of the fire,” my mother continued. “What do you think? I’d like to read my book, actually, it’s getting really good.” She smiled playfully, and preceded to describe the last passage she’d read, her bright eyes animated with delight. “Here, come on, I’ll read to you.” She jumped up from her chair, excitedly, and pulled me to the couch. I laughed, jumping on the living room sofa, and then snuggled in next to her. I closed my eyes against her warm, fuzzy sweater, and waited for the sound of her voice.
She read to me. In a rich, melodic tone she recounted the story, giving beauty and meaning to every line. And I listened. We laughed together sharing the characters’ joy, and then fretted during the plights. We stayed there, on the couch, feeling every word as if we were in the pages ourselves. I kept listening, my head resting on her shoulder, until my mother had reached the very last page. After reading the last line, her hypnotic voice still dripping with enchantment, she gently closed the book shut.
“I love when there are happy endings,” I sighed, pleased at how the story had finished off.
“So do I,” my mother agreed.
“There can always be a happy ending,” she continued. “But sometimes it’s up to you.”
I nodded dreamily, and gave her a hug. She stroked my hair and kissed the top of my head. Then I curled up on the couch contentedly, and fell asleep.
When I awoke, I didn’t know how much time had gone by. I opened my eyes and stretched. I sat up, slowly, and looked around the room. My mother was no longer beside me. I stood up from the sofa, and noticing it had grown cold, wrapped the blanket around my shoulders. The gray wintry sky had not since given way to sun, and the glowing light from the fire had gone out. The walls, formerly reflecting a golden sheen, now appeared lifeless. A cheerless ashen.
I walked into the kitchen, and called out to my mother. She didn’t answer me. I called again, but heard nothing. I stood there in the kitchen for awhile, wondering where she had gone. A crow called sharply from outside the window, startling me, but there was no other sound.
I walked down the hallway, thinking that she may be in her room, and saw that her door was closed. I quietly opened the door, careful not to disturb her, but realized upon entering that she wasn’t there. I stood in the doorway, staring at her vacant reading chair. The faded green chenille appeared lonely, clinging to the woolen blanket laying overtop. The room was dark, as if it had been so for years. A musty smell of bed linens invaded my nostrils, defeating the familiar scent of sweet perfume. Confused, I glanced at her desk. A layer of dust covered the top, disguising the wooden detail, and yellowed papers rested collectively in the center, immobile.
“What are you doing?” I turned, quickly, to the sound of the voice, the blanket falling from my shoulders. I looked out the doorway. Patrick.
“What are you doing?” he repeated, sounding quieter this time, although apprehensive. I stared at him, not knowing how to respond. I wiped an unnoticed tear that had fallen on my cheek, and turned away from him.
“Thinking about her?” he asked softly. I stood in silence for awhile, not hearing him. The wind blew strong against the window, and the cold, wood floor chilled my feet. I could see the frozen trees outside the window, the snowflakes hugging tightly in the wind.
“She was here again, you know,” I said after awhile, distantly, still standing in the middle of the room. Patrick looked at me, and then at the floor, not knowing what to say. “I keep seeing her,” I continued, gazing out the window. “She was here again. She was right there, it was so real.” I could feel tears well up in my eyes. “I just miss her so much…I don’t know what to do.” I brought my hands to my face, covering my eyes from the truth I didn’t want to see.
“I know you miss her,” Patrick finally replied, gently. He walked up to me and put his arms around shoulders. “But it’s going to be okay,” he said.
I nodded, but my tears didn’t subside. We stood in that room for awhile, just standing there. I was so grateful to him at that moment, but I couldn’t find the words to tell him so. I couldn’t shake the guilt I had for putting him through all this. My illusions of my mother were, undoubtedly, just as hard for him as they were for me. I hoped he understood that I was sorry.
We had not spoken of my mother much since her death, two years ago. I kept trying to push her out of my mind, but the more I tried to forget her, the more I saw her. I didn’t want to talk about her then, but now, I felt it was time to. I wanted to talk about her; I needed to. Patrick and I left her bedroom, and sat together on the living room sofa, in front of the warm glow of the fire. I told him stories about her, and we spoke for a long time, sharing our memories of joy and solace. I missed her so much. I guess that feeling never really goes away. Yet, I still believed in a happy ending.
After that, I saw her less and less. My vivid imaginings of her went from a weekly occurrence, to a few times a month, to nonexistent. But I never stopped loving her, or thinking about her. I never totally let go of her. Someone who had taught me, inspired me, and loved me like she did would be in my heart forever. She was my heroin. Yet, I finally learned the acceptance I needed to go on. I learned it from her. She told me there could always be a happy ending. It was simply up to me.
Now when I look outside at the bright winter sky, the snow covered ground, and the trees cradling snowflakes in their arms, I think of her. I think of how she cradled me, at the kitchen table, on a December morning, in the warm glow of our home. I can think of how I’ve recovered the peace I had known in those days. Those days I spent with my mother.
Published in Celebrate Caledon!
More In the Media:
Article from February 1, 2019 – Caledon Enterprise
by Karen Martins-Robbins
It was one of those stories that stays with you.
A 17-year-old girl killed in a car accident.
This one was particularly poignant for me because I was newly pregnant.
“Collision takes life of Caledon girl” ran in the Orangeville Banner on Jan. 9, 2004.
Identical twin sisters, Elizabeth and Cassandra, were driving north in the early hours of 2004 on St. Andrew’s Road when their Honda SUV struck another vehicle heading south.
Cassandra was severely injured; Elizabeth died.
For the initial story, I spoke to their mother, Heather, and cried with her on the phone.
In February, when Robert F Hall Catholic Secondary School held a memorial for Elizabeth, I wrote a second story.
“Student, teachers mourn loss of teen” ran in the newspaper on Feb. 20, 2004.
Heather, her husband Tony and Cassandra were all at the service where students and teachers spoke about Elizabeth and tried to express their grief.
I couldn’t help but keep an eye on Cassandra.
Not only did she lose her sister, her best friend, her womb mate, she was literally a living reminder of that loss because she looks just like Elizabeth.
When I got to my car afterwards, I sobbed.
A few weeks later, I found out I was carrying identical twin girls.
The coincidence felt eerie to me.
I have thought of the Scavetta family often; wondering, how do you live after such a loss.
Fifteen years later, Heather and I meet in a coffee shop to talk about Elizabeth and surviving loss.
It wasn’t easy.
Heather still has trouble talking about the night of the accident.
The horror of the late night call from police, trying to get through the police barricade at the scene, arguing with hospital staff for information — anything — about her daughters’ condition.
The girls were split up — Cassandra was airlifted to a hospital in Toronto’s north end, Elizabeth to the south end.
“When you have twins, you’re so careful to have everything equal — if you kiss one, you kiss the other. It was incomprehensible.”
Elizabeth died at the hospital while she was on her way for a CT scan.
There’s a lot of darkness in Heather’s memory about that time.
Cassandra was in the hospital for weeks recovering. For a time, she couldn’t see, walk or talk.
Afterwards, as Cassandra’s health got better, the grief felt physical, “like a knife in my heart all the time,” Heather said.
And then, she was watching her daughter try to live without her twin.
“They were always so sweet to each other. They were best friends,” Heather said.
Cassandra, the quieter, more reserved of the pair, had to learn to be more outgoing, how to speak up for herself.
As a family, they realized they needed to do something to help themselves.
Heather, who had never been a religious person, called out to Jesus for guidance.
She saw a vision — what she calls a movie — in full colour. She believes it was her daughter, just beyond the veil, that sent her that movie.
The family launched into a spiritual journey — and in it they found their connection to Elizabeth.
Four years later, the Scavetta’s opened the School of Miracles in their home just outside Caledon Village teaching meditation, psychic development and mediumship.
Since then, they have shared with others what they have learned about connecting with the spiritual world.
Heather wrote a book, The Power of Love, A Mother’s Miraculous Journey from Grief to Medium, Channel and Teacher.
The book talks about her loss, but doesn’t dwell on it — focusing instead on how to find joy after loss.
Michael Reist, Elizabeth’s teacher, stayed in touch with the family.
“They have transformed their experience, which seemed nothing but tragic at the time, into something beautiful which has helped countless others who have experienced loss,” he said.
Along with helping others with grief, Heather has made sure that Elizabeth’s name is not forgotten.
For 10 years, they sponsored a high school scholarship in her name. The monetary prize was given to a graduating student who, like Elizabeth, intended on pursuing a career in journalism.
The Caledon Public Library also named a short story contest after Elizabeth — an award the teen had won just before she died.
One of her poems, “The Night Side of the Earth,” was written a few weeks before her death. It was read at her funeral, Reist said. In it she wrote words of comfort to those left behind — as though she had a premonition of what was to come.
Heather is working on a new book The Way of the Heart: How to access your heart’s guidance system, but this one isn’t about Elizabeth. She’s at peace with what happened to her family.
“If I had a life goal, it would be to cure grief. We all have a role to play. Maybe mine is to show others how to heal.”
Karen Martin-Robbins is a reporter with the Caledon Enterprise. Reach her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @karenmartinrob6
More in the Media:
THIS YEAR IN BOOKS 2014
Author – Heather Scavetta
After a car accident took the life of one of her 17-year-old twin daughters, Heather Scavetta made the brave decision to do more than just survive; she determined to live a meaningful life. Through meditation and psychic workshops, she and her husband, Tony, learned to feel energy and opened their minds to a new reality. Death isn’t an ending, it’s a transition into the next state of being. Once they understood how to recognize the signs, they experienced messages and even visitations from their daughter, Elizabeth. The couple founded the School of Miracles out of their home in Caledon where they teach courses in meditation, psychic development, mediumship and Reiki.
This year some of this literary bounty is being formally recognized by the Caledon Public Library in its new Read Local Caledon program, launched in October. A bookish version of the booming eat-local trend, Read Local Caledon invites Caledon and area authors to join a new catalogue of books designed local authors to celebrate and promote their work. Writing can be a very solitary occupation, says Mary Maw, the library’s manager of communications and programming. “We’re hoping to get the word out: We want to get to know you.” The program features new spine stickers on participating books, a series of events bringing local book lovers together, and prominent online bios of participating authors on the library’s website. (Guidelines for qualifying authors can also be found there.) To date, 29 contemporary authors are represented in the collection, including some covered here, such as economics and ethics writer Andrew Welch, and Heather Scavetta, who shares her experiences in the world of meditation and psychic workshops. So far the collection includes 124 titles, with contemporary authors joining such grandfathered literary stars of Caledon as the late Farley Mowat and Robertson Davies. “We want to celebrate our talented homegrown authors and give them a platform to increase their recognition in our community – online, in the catalogue and on the shelf,” says Ms. Maw. As the offerings in our annual review suggest, that catalogue is sure to swell in 2015, and with it the certainty that these hills offer fertile ground for the creators and lovers of the written word. —Tralee Pearce
More in the Media:
BODY, MIND, SOUL, SPIRIT
BY MONICA DUNCAN
In the Hills Magazine
November 17, 2014
The School of Miracles
“Where there is great love,Willa Cather
there are always miracles.”
That quote from Willa Cather is enshrined on the wall at Caledon’s School of Miracles. For Heather Scavetta, the paranormal is just normal. It wasn’t always this way. She once had what she calls a “perfectly normal” happy life. But one day, looking out over the hills of her Caledon farm, she had the uneasy certainty that something seismic was on its way. Just months later Heather, her husband Tony, and Elizabeth, one of her 17-year-old twin daughters, were gathered together on New Year’s Eve. On the television in the background controversial psychic Sylvia Browne was making predictions for the year ahead. Elizabeth and Tony were engaged in a debate, Tony proclaiming something to the effect that the world of psychics is hokum. His daughter disagreed with some passion: It’s real, Dad!” Later that night, a car accident took Elizabeth’s earthly life. Tony and Heather’s world abruptly collapsed. But Heather is a fighter. From her own work as a nurse and having counselled others, she knew that she and her husband needed help. They searched “high and low” for answers, as she puts it. But “the rational world yielded no comfort.” Casting a wider net they learned to meditate. It was during this time that Heather, gutted by grief, hit her lowest point. She cried out to God for help. “That is when everything changed,” she says. “I started to receive beautiful visions from my daughter every day. I could see them play out before me, colours I had never seen and animals and landscapes, as well as imagery from heaven.” A convert to Catholicism, and with no previous context for her newfound experience, Heather didn’t self-edit what was happening. “The spirit world is real,” she says, “and God exists.”
A sense of mission unfolded for both Heather and Tony. Once a skeptic, Tony also began to experience his daughter’s presence. He is so changed he now gives readings at the School of Miracles, which the couple felt compelled to establish to share their awareness. Not “psychic” by birth nor having inherited their extra sense, Heather and Tony feel that opening the doors of perception can be learned, that it’s a beautiful gift and that “contact” involves healing and growth on many levels.
Interest in these things seems to be evolving, Heather points out. You can’t turn on the television without coming across dramas and reality-based shows such as Medium, Rescue Mediums, Ghost Whisperer, The Listener and John Edward’s Crossing Over. It only follows that people would want to learn about their unusual experiences or reach out to loved ones who have passed, she says.
When I arrived to interview Heather, a class on mediumship was just breaking up. Excited students, women and men, young and old, were lingering after the session, eager to share their paranormal experiences and their desire to contact the spirit world. There was a common thread to their stories that Heather later confirms. Loved ones come to tell us, “I’m here and I’m okay,” she says. And, in that, her students and clients come to realize all the love that surrounds them. “I had a perfect love with my daughter when she was here,” says Heather. “And I have perfect love with her still.”
Keen to spread her message more broadly, Heather has recently published a book detailing her experience of the loss and redemption of her daughter. Called The Power of Love: A Mother’s Miraculous Journey from Grief to Medium, Channel and Teacher, it is available at local bookstores and libraries or online. (See mini-review The Year in Books: 2014 in this issue.)
More in the Media:
The Year in Music: 2013
BY LISA WATSON
In The Hills Magazine
November 19, 2013
Heather Scavetta, R.N.
Mastered by Bruce Ley – 2010
The Swing In this guided meditation for spiritual development and connection to loved ones and spirit guides, Heather and Tony Scavetta are doing important work around bereavement after losing their beautiful daughter Elizabeth. During workshops at their School of Miracles, Elizabeth is regularly seen helping attendees learn to see, feel, hear and know spirit. Heather carves a wondrous psychic path to peace and helps us connect to the higher realms.
More in the Media:
BY HEATHER SCAVETTA
Caledon Spectrum Magazine
Icelandic Horses in Caledon
My Heart Horse
Icies are what they are affectionately called, but don’t call them ponies! Icelandic horses are indeed a full size horse even though they typically stand less than 14 hands tall (Áki is 13 hands).
Icelandic horses originated in Iceland where they are the only breed of horse. Once an Icelandic leaves Iceland it cannot return, thus keeping the breed pure. Icelandic horses can carry a person up to 200 lbs as well as pull carts. Most Icelandics are used for pleasure riding.
There are many unique aspects to Icelandics, but what is most coveted is their extra gait. The tolt is a four-beat gait where all legs are off the ground except one. What makes this special, is that a tolt can be as fast as a trot, but without the rider posting or coming out of the saddle. The rider sits in the saddle while the horse does all the work! During Icelandic shows, you will often see “the beer tolt” performed where the rider holds a full mug of beer while the horse is in tolt. The smoother the tolt, the less beer is spilled! Try to do that when you are trotting! At Icelandic horse shows, you may also be lucky to witness the flying pace. This extra gait is where all the horse’s feet leave the ground and you are indeed flying with your horse.
Just as with any horse, each Icelandic horse is unique, but typically they are friendly, brave and forward moving. Once you ride the tolt, and meet an Icelandic, you’ll be hooked. It’s hard to have just one. We currently have three Icelandics.
I could tell you all about the history of Icelandics, but what I want you to know is what a wonderful temperament they have. They are gentle, trusting, calm, and easy keepers, but don’t let them fool you. They are not for beginner riders. They are agile, quick and can turn on a dime. Their canter is as quick as a gallop and they aren’t easy to stop! Icelandics start late at the age of 5 and can live into their 40’s. It’s not unusual to ride them into their early 30’s.
Traditionally, Icelandics are born with an Icelandic name, whether they are bred in Iceland, Canada, Germany, United States, or any other place. My horse Áki is 24 years old and I am still riding him in the fields and enjoy living with him every day. Svalur is also 24 and Ragnar is 12. We will soon be adding to the herd when a friend’s Icelandic comes to live with us.