I don’t believe in coincidences.

Whether part of some “divine plan” or a science deeper than we currently understand, I think everything happens for a reason. I see it as a philosophical version of Chaos Theory (http://www.imho.com/grae/chaos/chaos.htm); in my thinking, there is a pattern, a Koch’s Curve (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/KochSnowflake.html) to life. If we could just stand back far enough, we could see the pattern and the beauty. Unfortunately, we usually cannot get that perspective, and that is the problem.

My daughter was killed in a single-car rollover in 2008. One split-second event (The dash of a rabbit across the road? A random gust of wind? A grain of sand in her eye?) ended a life, and set in motion an altered universe for me and many others. The beat of a butterfly’s wing changes the air current just enough to cause a chain of meteorological events to cause a hurricane – or stop one. My daughter’s death is truly an illustration of the “butterfly effect" (http://www.stsci.edu/~lbradley/seminar/butterfly.html) in action.

Ava’s death was the ultimate blow to my family’s shrinking remains. I had lost a husband, both parents and now my only child within an eight-year period. I could not conceive of going forward with my life alone. I began the process to adopt a child. The first fractal “bump” in a developing pattern.

While the interminable adoption process continued, I sought to connect with other children. I badly needed connection with young people – and quickly. I helped start a mentoring project at the local high school, since there were none in the area. I was also writing about my grief and adoption journey in the local newspaper. The articles were well-received, my story became public knowledge, and I found the writing to be therapeutic.

One local woman was touched by my stories. She called me when she read about the mentoring program, asking me to mentor her daughters – two teenage sisters a year apart. The mother was passionate and obviously devoted to her girls, and I agreed to meet them. If the girls were willing, so was I.

My relationship with these girls began in the spring of 2009. In September of that year, my adoption agency found my youngest daughter, and she came to live with me. Life suddenly got very busy.

The teen’s mother and I had by this time become friends. We talked about being single parents and in the course of one conversation agreed to “adopt” each other’s children should something happen to one of us. I would take her girls if she could no longer parent; if something happened to me, she would take Tina.

My mentoring continued, but the time I had available diminished and the girls’ schedules were increasingly restricted. We spoke on the phone and saw each other irregularly.

Then, the echo of that butterfly wing sounded again. The girl’s mother’s health suddenly landed her in the ICU. I was on the “emergency” phone list, so when I got the call, I went into action. I took them to the hospital to see their mother before her surgery, and brought them home to stay with me – for as long as necessary.

What I didn’t expect from this seemingly chaotic chain of events was the magic these girls would bring back to my life. After having them in my home for nearly a month now, I realize that I love, need and want teenagers in my home and life. We pray for their mother’s recovery so they can go home, and I know when they leave me I will miss them. I also know I will begin fostering teenage girls then – for as long as possible.

With a butterfly wing’s beat, my teenage daughter was taken from me abruptly. That stirred breath of air has ultimately helped turn me in a direction that is bringing me a renewed sense of purpose, and best of all – happiness. I find I am gradually becoming the person I always hoped I’d be.

With the beauty of a fractal (http://www.fractal-recursions.com/), I feel the blossoming of new hope, possibility, and future. There is, indeed, a pattern to and a reason for all things in this world.

Author's Bio: 

Born in Sun Valley, Idaho, Tamara Thomas moved to Arizona in 1980. She has lived and worked in the Wickenburg area for the last 11 years, and has spent the last eight years working at the Wickenburg Sun newspaper.

Tamara was educated at Reed College, Vanderbilt University and the University of Arizona. As well as being editor at The Sun, she is a professional artist with local murals on display in downtown Wickenburg and in many private homes and businesses throughout the west, as well as canvases that she shows and sells both locally and nationally.

Upon the loss of her only child in 2008, she underwent profound personal changes. Some of those changes produced a few good things: She helped found the $3,000 Abigail Garcia memorial scholarship for local graduating high school seniors; she founded a local mentoring group for at-risk high school students; she adopted a grade-school student from foster care – her second beloved daughter Tina; and she started a blog about grief, organ donation, adoption and related interwoven topics with the desire to benefit others experiencing similar changes.

Tamara can be reached through The Wickenburg Sun; by mail at PO Box 86, Wickenburg AZ 85358; through her website www.WhereThereIsLife.com, or via email at tam@wherethereislife.com.