“Have you ever had a moment? You know, a moment when time stood still and everything was as it should be — right and good and whole and wonderful. A moment when you were in the right place at the right time and life was good. Did you ever have a moment like that?”
Those are not my words. Those are the words of Darcie Sims.
Darcie was a longtime board member of the Compassionate Friends and the founder of TAPS, a nonprofit serving bereaved military families.
La Cañada has a local chapter of the Compassionate Friends. It’s a quiet little group, below the radar, part of a national nonprofit that offers support to bereaved parents.
The Compassionate Friends do not charge dues or fees. They are not affiliated with any religion or church.
I was aware of the Compassionate Friends, but never attended their meetings. Currently, the group meets at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. The meetings are at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month, from January to October, and on the third Thursday in November and December. There’s also a pregnancy and infant loss subgroup that meets concurrently with the primary group but in an adjacent area. Contact Kathy Yeager at (818) 236-3635 for more information.
Darcie founded another group, Tragedy Assistance for Survivors, aka TAPS, for military families. In 2003, when I first heard about TAPS, I thought it was for families of those who died in combat. In the hierarchy of bereavements, since our son had died of cancer, I incorrectly assumed that TAPS did not apply to me. We, after all, were with our son at his death. Unlike the combat fatalities, we were given the gift of being able to say goodbye.
A few years ago, TAPS reached out to me. They sent me candles, magazines and notes. Darcie’s writings have been a continual source of support.
For example, Darcie wrote, “I first began to think about going crazy shortly after our son died. It seemed innocent enough in the beginning. Just an occasional sound that came from his bedroom or a whiff of his scent that would catch me by surprise…but after sharing my first encounter with him with a neighbor, I knew the rest of the world would think me daft. So I quit telling other people about my little conversations and my little encounters. I just kept them to myself.”
And this: “Few books tell us it’s normal to hang on to tiny mementos of the past, but no one thinks it’s weird to keep the old high school yearbooks.”
And this: “Breathe in love and find the memories and the magic of those who have loved us. Love is the magic that heals us all.”
Darcie Sims died on Feb. 27. She influenced and helped a lot of us, right here in La Cañada.
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.