The “Nina Moments” leading up to the opening of her foundation have been at times spiritually unbelievable…except for continued faith.
Please allow me to share with you these Nina Moments.
Our foundation, honoring our daughter and sister, started out as a plan, but whose plan? Our Christina went to heaven unexpectedly. The grief for our family was unbearable, as it is for anyone who loses a loved one.
Father Jude, was the celebrant for the Celebration of Life. I had told him when my grief was so unbearable that a yellow butterfly would appear out of nowhere he told me that Our Heavenly Father allows our loved ones to come through the veil to try and bring comfort because they see our sadness. I told him, “We are lost Father Jude,” he told me “Josephine, you must listen, for our Heavenly Father will tell you what your next journey will be.” I can’t tell you how I held those words close to my aching mom heart in FAITH that He would and through Nina Moments, Our Heavenly Father did.
Barely six months had passed since Christina had gone to heaven, that my caring neighbor and friend sent me an email telling me about Grief Share at Moody Methodist Church. It’s a special weekly support group for people grieving the death of a loved one. There I met a couple from the church they themselves had lost their beautiful daughter. Together they are an amazing blessed couple that opened their hearts to those seeking comfort through this program.
I am not one for support groups even when Christina was born, but I had reached the point of feeling like I was crawling out of my skin with desperation just to see her to touch her to just wake up and this not be happening. It is a 13-week session a place where you can be around people who understand the pain of a loss. They are held throughout the US, Canada and in over 10 other countries. To learn more, go to griefshare.org. Maybe by sharing this information, you can, and in turn, can help someone else.
I met a woman who had lost her mother, and after the group session of Grief Share she came up to me and I hugged her and not long after we were crying and amidst the tears she told me that her granddaughter was much like how I had described Christina and that she was about to lose her Social Security Income and her daughter didn’t know what she was going to do. I pushed her away with a smile on my face, wiped away my tears and said “I can help you with that!”
So, I drove home a little faster, rushing to tell Craig of the “aha” moment that had been given to me that night by our Heavenly Father. He had that look in his eyes like, “Oh no, now what is she thinking.” I told him who of all people could help others in need of compassion dealing with a loved one, which requires so much and everything we endured making sure she had all she needed in her almost 33 years of her precious life.
We were listening, and so the journey began…Nina Moment… Weeks had gone by, and we were on our usual run and walked on the Seawall. Before we had gotten out of the car, we both started crying. When I got back in the car, Craig hadn’t made it back yet. I was looking out over the gulf waters and started yelling at the top of my lungs, calling out for my daughter, “Where are you, Mommy? Daddy and I are lost.”
That same day, we had to hurry back home because the loving care provider that had assisted our family with Christina was picking up a wheelchair that we were donating to a family.
As we started to place the wheelchair in her car, she began to cry. In consoling her, I began to cry; Craig put his arms around us, and soon we were all in tears. Craig said, “Nina is watching over us always.” Gloria wiped away her tears, closed the hatch, and said, “Sissy, look up!” I looked up! Above us floated a set of clouds in the shape of an angel. It was saying to us, I am happy & I am okay, and I am watching over you all. Spiritually it was overwhelming, the sign we had been given that day. Another Nina Moment
After Christian had taken the image of the beautiful angel cloud that had appeared that day little did we know that it would become the symbol of guidance and hope for Christina’s foundation. That next morning he began to draw on his tablet. The stokes just started to appear one right after the other. He had drawn the most beautiful yet simplistic image of an angel in the shape of a cloud. That was it, the logo that would represent her foundation done with his amazing love throughout her entire life, his unconditional love for his sister.
Watching over dad…Craig had gone to a meeting set up by officials in Austin to get things resolved on a crucial issue that involved our family. He waited patiently for two days, and then he had been turned away with no explanation. It was so late when he called. I begged him to please stay. I didn’t want him to drive home, especially the way he sounded. I could tell he was saddened and disappointed by the treatment he had received trying to work this out for six months. He insisted he would not stay and would be fine to drive home. He said he was stopping at McDonald’s for a coffee, and then he would be on his way. I started crying after we hung up the phone and talking to Nina, asking her to please watch over daddy because he was sad, and it was going to be a long lonely drive home. When he got back in the car, he immediately called me after he sent a picture. It was of a yellow butterfly on the passenger side window inside the car. We were both in tears, and I told him I had asked her to watch over you because I was worried. I told Craig that she was telling him, “It will be ok, dad, and I am here to be with you.” I ran upstairs to show Christian and my nephew Brandon who couldn’t believe what they had seen. Faith is an amazing gift…. Where would we be without it?
Time passed and our son was having an art showing for Art Walk in Galveston. Our neighbors had brought over some friends to see his work that evening. Started as a casual conversation about art and then I started talking about Christina, I wanted to share everything that had happened from the yellow butterflies appearing in places she had once been—twice on the handicap railing where she once sat at the end zone of the football stadium, where she attended football games with her family, and once inside the passenger window of her dads car—to the woman at grief share and her granddaughter, so I had taken out my phone and shared with him the angel cloud that appeared in the sky. All of these were Nina Moments. I then said to him, we are trying to build a foundation that assists children and adults with intellectual and physical challenges and their families. He looked at me and he said, I’m an attorney and I would like our firm to help you to file a 501(c)3 Non-profit to honor the memory of your daughter as a gift”. I was speechless immediately thinking it was my beautiful daughter again; I was overjoyed just so thankful for his incredible Act of Kindness from a complete stranger.
The Christina Grillo Sullivan Foundation is a “Network of Guardians for Hope & Guidance” Assisting children and adults with intellectual and physical challenges.
Although she is not with us here on this earth she is all around us through the lives she continues to touch through her growing foundation family.
I reflect back to what our dear friend Brother Al of the Catholic Marianist Order spiritually said, “Instead of praying for Christina… We now can pray to her.”
I will always keep an open heart and watch for the next Nina Moment in every face and embrace of the people we serve…The Christina Grillo Sullivan Foundation…BRINGS PEOPLE HOPE