444 The Power of Angels in the Face of Tragedy

  • Have you ever had a friend who’s light shines so bright you know she is a designated Earth Angel?
  • Have you ever had a friend who knows exactly when you need her and you will get a message from her?
  • Have you ever had a friend who when she leaves social media, you feel it because of all the positivity and authenticity she brings?
  • Have you ever had a friend who’s friendship has surpassed the years and distance like time doesn’t matter at all?
  • Have you ever had a friend who you thought deserved the absolute best in life because of the strength of her faith?
  • Have you ever had a friend whose belief in angels could make even the biggest non-believers see beyond what they knew to be real?

What happens when this friend, the one who truly represents so much good in the world gets hit with one of the worst possible tragedies any person can imagine?

February 9, 2020: Texting back and forth expressing complete and utter joy about where her life is right now. “It goes to show that God answers prayer with the most amazing gifts as long as you keep doing the next right things and keep the FAITH.”

February 10, 2020: Unknown number calls and is followed with a text, “Hi Rachael, this is Julie, Erin’s friend. She wanted me to reach out to you, please give me a call when you have a chance.” I call her immediately. I’m not going to lie and tell you I remember every detail of this call. Julie had to repeat herself multiple times before I could even process the words. “Colton’s dad killed him, then killed himself…Erin found them.” My heart dropped. Right now there are tears pouring out of my eyes as I type the worst words I’ve ever had to type, hear, and absorb. At 8:30 AM, Erin goes to pick up her son, and instead found two lifeless bodies. It’s reported that neighbors heard her excruciating scream (link here).  

Whatever reaction you are having right now, it was felt across the globe. As friends and former classmates realized the 5-year old in the news was Colton, I started receiving calls, texts, and messages with people aching to know how they could support Erin and her two surviving boys. Many of us feeling completely helpless, we waited in hopes to be guided to how best serve our friend. Again, this is a woman who gives so much love, light, and faith to the world. How can we possibly help lift her right now? How can we take away even a little of this pain? How can we help her keep her amazing faith right now?

Erin is the biggest believer in angels that I know, both Earthly and Heavenly. Angels and her faith in God will be what will EMPOWER her to carry on. I didn’t feel right about starting anything or even talking about this until I knew what she wanted. 

February 11, 2020: Erin told me that it is too painful to go home and that her friend Julie was going to be setting up a Go Fund Me campaign to help her to raise the money to get out of the duplex where she currently lives—ANGELS UNIT.  Through the help of Meredith Meller #ErinsAngels444, Help Erin & Her Boys Find a Home After Tragedy went live and Earth Angels began showing up in droves. 

Seeing this has helped me to remember that one unhealthy man committed this unthinkable act, but for every ONE of those people who are capable of committing such a crime against humanity, there are countless people who show up in all different ways to help lift others with their love, faith, compassion, empathy, and genuinely good hearts. Thank you to ALL the EARTH ANGELS in the WORLD!!! You are all apart of what is good in the world, and I know Erin and her boys feel it. You are what shows her FAITH and belief in angels will carry her through this, and with that I cannot thank you enough. 

We started with hopes in raising enough funds to put Erin and her boys in a new apartment. Honestly, most of us who know and love her and the boys would love to see them in a permanent home.  A home where they can honor Colton’s memory in a way that will lift them in the knowing of all the Heavenly and Earthly angels whose love, compassion, and empathy supported them when they could not support themselves.

This piece was written with the blessing and permission from Erin and Julie. Pictures were provided and taken by Erin (Enderland) Petersen.

One of the most beautiful things about Erin is that even in this situation, she KNOWS the power of prayer, so if that is what you can do, she would be as grateful for your silent prayers as she is for anything monetary you could give. She really is that FAITH-FILLED. She really is one of God’s most wonderful Earth Angels and all her boys are a reflection of that. Colton’s joy for life was palpable. Please help us to lift her and her family through this Faith challenging time. Keep her believing in angels.

Read more about the Surviving Petersens and Donate Here if you feel driven to do so.

With Love, Grief, and So Much Gratitude, 

Rachael Wolff ©2020

When the Pain Is Real


I have been writing about emotional pain and suffering since I started this blog, but until last week I hadn’t had much experience with the concept of dealing with so much emotional pain and physical pain all at once. I like to believe I’m a very compassionate person, but until I suffered from what I’m going through right now I didn’t know I had ways to open up even more.

In a matter of weeks, I found out my “Gifted mother” (GM) (my dad’s partner of 21 years and too special to consider step or anything less) had stage 4 lung cancer and would not be fighting it. She was ready to be with my dad once again on the other side; a strange foot thing making my foot swell and sharp pains run over the top of my foot; discovering I had a basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) right above my lip; my book proposal needing to be finished; and my kid’s father stopped paying child support. I showed up for my GM as much as I could, and dealt with my foot issue including having to wear a soft cast on my right foot as I traveled  an hour and a half to go be with my GM as frequently as I possible.

I had surgery on my face that turned out to be a lot more intense than I thought it would be. The worst news I got from my Dr. was that I wasn’t supposed to smile, laugh, or excessively move my mouth for three weeks. I’m a positive person and all I could think about was not being able to help my GM feel comfortable in what could be her last week of life. After leaving my surgery, I get a text letting me know that my GM was unresponsive. I drove right down with a fully bandaged face. Her friend sent me a message saying she was waiting for me, and that she was talking now.

When I got there she didn’t recognize me because I had a bandage covering most of my face. If I had painted a little nose on, I would have looked like on of Dr. Seuss’ Who characters from Whoville. I knew I was where I was supposed to be. She talked and laughed all night passing messages of love and even humor with one of her best friends and I, then later her daughter arrived from a very long drive to get to her. She still was having beautiful moments until I left late that night. I wouldn’t have missed that time for the world. The next morning, I came in and sat quietly across the room as her and her daughter slept. My GM had a rough night and was now on a morphine drip and anti-anxiety  meds. She was so peaceful, we thought we would have a little more time, but at 9:43am, I was holding her hand in my hands as she took her last breath.  All of this happened within six long, never-ending weeks.

I sit here now with stitches still in my face, feeling out of sorts and not quite like myself. I didn’t have any idea of how much of my identity I put into expressing my emotions through my face. I have never stuffed any kind of pain, so to have to constantly restrict what I can do and how my face moves, along with watching my tears because I need to make sure to keep my wound clean, has proven to be more challenging than I thought it would be. I see now how people can feel like they lose their identities when they have an injury or illness that restricts them from doing and acting the way they usually do. I get how it takes time to process the feelings that I never even knew I had inside.

My lesson is one of compassion for others. As I walk by people and they look at me and smile a sympathetic smile, I have to look down instead of smile back, because it causes too much physical pain. I am now more understanding to people who are suffering from emotional, mental, physical, and financial distress, because I truly have no idea what might have happened to that person in the last week, month or year.

On a logical and practical level, I know not to take other’s actions personally, but going through everything I just did in these last six weeks, I finally fully understand it in the heart now. I have had to let people have their journeys and experiences through all of this. Everyone views the end of life journey so differently. My kids had to see me after surgery and get the news that their JoJo passed all at once. I had to understand how scary seeing me stitched up and covered in bandages was for them and that it was also embarrassing in a way. I get that, I still get a little embarrassed, I can’t expect they wouldn’t. I feel like I could talk about it openly and help them deal with the guilt of feeling embarrassed. I could also let them feel the way they needed to about their JoJo, which is still not quite real to any of us yet.

I know there is still a lot of powerful lessons in all that happened over these last six weeks, but I also know how blessed I am. So many showed up and helped me and my kids through this piece of a very big and unfinished puzzle. I’m blessed because all the right things came together for my GM to have the most peaceful journey possible. I’m blessed because though these next few weeks will be rough as I have to control how my feelings release on the outside, I still have my fingers to type and so much love in my heart to continue on and know I will smile again.

I believe the world is filled with Earth Angels and I’m so grateful that so many have crossed my path and helped me to continue to see all the beauty in humanity. Though I’m going through some tough life lessons, I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be-Itchy stitches and all. Even when the pain is SO real! The love can still always shine through if we keep our hearts open.

With Love and Gratitude,

Rachael Wolff