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from Louise McLaughlin - Cocchetto

I met Paul when I was ten and he was fourteen. Our families were introduced to each other shortly after we all arrived in Canada from across “the pond”. That was in 1978. Over the years, our families forged a strong bond, yet we had no idea just how important we all would be to each other. Even though Paul, Beverley and I didn’t hang out as friends, we had more of a cousin relationship. As the years went by, I was always kept up to date on both Beverley and Paul’s life, just as they were told all about mine. Beverley and Paul were important in my life and I always looked up to them. When I knew I was going to see Paul, I looked forward to listening to his stories, asking him what books he was reading, and just getting a sense of his take on life. One year we talked about Winnie the Pooh. I told him how much I loved the story “House at Pooh Corner”. I love Pooh. Not the commercialized “Disney Pooh”, but the real Winnie the Pooh. Paul once told me to read the Tao of Pooh. I remember that I immediately went out, bought the book and read it. Mine and my husband’s wedding bands are even inscribed with a quote from Pooh.

When the news came about Paul’s death, I couldn’t believe I would never have the chance to talk to him again. I had hoped that one day he could get to know me as an adult and the person I had become. My strongest memories of Paul are the blue Everton socks he wore every time they played, the Genesis posters and albums that filled his room, the countless friends that were always with him, the ever present drums in the basement, and most of all his beautiful smile. As he looked into your eyes you could feel his warmth.

I couldn’t be at Paul’s funeral and I was quite upset. About a week after his death I had a dream I will cherish forever. In my dream my cell-phone rang. I answered it and it was Paul. As I began to talk to him, I walked out to my back yard. I stood among the trees and began to ask him some questions I hoped could be answered. I asked him if he was happy when he was here. He said he was always happy. I asked him if he was happy now. He said he was very happy. I asked him if he was scared when he died. He said he wasn’t. I asked him if he was just saying that so we didn’t worry. And again he reassured me that he wasn’t scared, and not to worry. I asked him to give me a sign so I could be sure of what he was telling me. And then the most comforting breeze slowly began to surround me. It warmed my skin and it began to lift me gently up in the air, high above the trees. The feeling was much like the feeling when he smiles at you. The breeze lifted me over the trees and gently placed me back on the ground. When I was able to catch my breath I told Paul how amazing it was and I thanked him. And then another breeze came and lifted me up again, except this time I wasn’t lifted as high. I asked Paul what that was for and he said “Gotcha” and laughed. After we said goodbye I was sitting in my backyard with Carl Harris, a friend of Paul’s. I had my cell-phone in my hand and I was telling Carl how I talked to Paul. I asked Carl to tell me about Paul’s friends. Carl talked about Cous. He said they were so close and they did everything together – they even went to the gym together to work out. When I woke up the next morning I took a lot of comfort from my dream, and knew that Paul was okay.

When my parents returned from Paul’s funeral, I told my Mom about my dream. She listened very quietly never saying a word. At the end of the story I said “Wasn’t that weird that I dreamt that Paul worked out at a gym?” The only reason I found that strange was because I had never been told that Paul was a workout type of guy. That’s when she told me about riding in the car with Cous one day in Vancouver after Paul’s death. Cous pointed out a gym that she and Paul went to once. She began to tell a funny story about Paul, some girls and a treadmill. The story ended with Paul being very embarrassed and vowing never to go to a gym again.

I believe that Paul came to me because I couldn’t be with his family during his funeral. He knew I was upset and he consoled me. Thank you Paul for that rose.

However, this was not the only rose that Paul has given me. Paul has showered me and my family with roses since his death. To some people, the story that follows is incomprehensible, to others this story will be of great comfort. I don’t know how to begin to tell you the overwhelming feeling of gratitude, love and awe for Paul and his family. I’ll start from the beginning.

In August of 2005 I was told I had suffered a miscarriage. In September of 2005 I had minor surgery for other reasons. A side effect of the surgery can be gas pain. Consequently, I began suffering from terrible abdominal pain at the end of September. I was told by several doctors, that the pain was from the miscarriage as well as a side effect of the surgery. Matt and Christine knew about this and they called often to check up on me. During all of this, my Mother and I, together with Paul’s friends were planning a memorial mass for Paul in Windsor. The mass was set for October 14th. Matt and Christine arrived a few days before the mass to see me in pain, and immediately took it upon themselves to help take care of my toddler. The day before the mass, Matt and Christine made sure they were with me and my daughter, while my parents were preparing for Paul’s mass. Over the course of that day I wasn’t getting any better and the pain was getting worse. Finally, Christine said that she was taking me to my doctor, who is also one of her dearest friends. In her very own words she said “I want to hear a doctor say you are okay”. I tried to tell her that I would be okay, but she was very firm and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She literally took me by the hand and walked me into his office. After examining me, my doctor realized something was very wrong. He told me to go home and he would call me when he was able to contact my obstetrician.

I went back to my home with Matt and Christine to await my sister Hilary’s arrival from New York, my brother Ian’s arrival from Calgary, Paul’s sister Beverley’s arrival from England and Paul’s girlfriend Sapna’s arrival from Vancouver. We were all together that night. The last time our families had all been together was Christmas Eve ten years ago. We talked about Paul and all the memories we have. There were some great stories told. I stayed up until 2 a.m. talking to Sapna. I wanted to hear more about her and Paul. It was a wonderful night. I will never forget it.

The next morning my doctor’s office called me and told me to go to the emergency room at the hospital, because my OB was waiting for me. When I arrived at ER, I told the triage nurse that I had a memorial mass to attend at 4 p.m. so if she could arrange for any tests that I needed, to be done as quickly as possible, and I would return after the mass to have any further procedures. She said she would see what she could do. She took my blood and asked me to take a seat. Within five minutes, they came to take me for an ultra sound reading. As soon as the ultrasound was complete they took me into a room and asked me to lie down. Shortly after that, Christine and Beverley came to be with me. They were with me when my OB came in to tell me what was happening. First he asked me who the memorial mass was for. I pointed at Christine and Beverley and said it was for their son and brother. He apologized to us and said I would not be attending the mass. He told me that I was bleeding internally, I was losing a lot of blood, probably due to a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and I needed to have emergency surgery. We were in shock. I had been sick for weeks and nothing was done until the day of Paul’s mass. I was listening to this unbelievable news and Paul’s family was sitting around me. Without saying a word, we all knew that Paul was with us too. Within an hour, I was being transferred to the operating room. Beverley was with me right up until they took me into the OR. I hugged her and she whispered in my ear that Paul was with me more than I realized.

As Paul’s memorial mass was being held with our entire families in attendance, which included Paul’s girlfriend Sapna, Paul was with me and the doctors, in the operating room at Windsor Regional hospital. I came very close to losing my life that day. Paul is the reason my daughter still has a mother. He’s the reason my husband still has his wife. He’s the reason my parents still have their daughter and he’s the reason my brother and sister still have their sister. He is the reason I am still here to enjoy this beautiful life I have. From the time of Paul’s death, Christine would say over and over how she would never be able to repay my Mother for being with her in Vancouver. Christine knows that Paul sent my Mother as a sign that he was okay. On the day of my surgery, while my parents were taking care of the memorial celebration of Paul, for his family and friends, Paul sent his family to take care of me. Our family bond has reached the heavens and continues to grow and be nourished with the blessings of God

After I left the hospital I went to my parent’s home to recover. One day, as I walked around the house, I saw a Bible sitting on the counter. I had never seen it before so I picked it up and I started to flip through the pages. I decided that it was a good idea to read it. It was at that point that my Mother walked into the room. I asked her where this Bible came from. She told me that Pat Ruel wanted me to have it. It was Paul’s. Upon hearing this, tears filled my eyes. I had never met Pat Ruel but I knew he was a very close friend of Paul’s. I went back to flipping the pages just so I could touch something that was Paul’s. There was a bookmark between the pages. I pulled the bookmark out and turned it over to read what was on it. And there was a picture of Winnie the Pooh, walking in the forest, looking up at the trees around him, as he “tra-la-la’s” through life. Pooh knows how to live and experience life. He’s got it all figured out. I read that Bible every night before I go to sleep.

Paul’s spirit was so bright and beautiful when he was with us on earth, but it is unimaginably bigger and brighter now as he watches over us from above. He loved so deeply and he cherished life immensely. He knew what life on earth was all about. And when he got to heaven, Jesus welcomed him as a disciple. Of this, I am certain. “What has died has just begun” (Paul Lawton)

Thank you Paul for all your roses and may you always feel our love.

Piglet asked “Will we be friends forever?”
Pooh replied “Even longer.”

All my love,
Louise McLaughlin - Cocchetto

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