Angel On My Shoulder

My daughter, Justine was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when she was a teenager. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a mental illness and it used to be called “Manic-Depression”. Both labels fit Justine. She would go through phases where she was on top of the world, getting great jobs, new vehicles, great houses with built-in pools and feeling wonderful. It was so great to see her doing so well because we had been through very difficult times in her life where everything would go wrong for her. She made completely different choices for herself when she was in each phase.

She knew and accepted that this was her life and after trying dozens of different medications and years of psychiatric and psychological care she found the right medication and doctor. She really disliked taking medication because she said she didn’t feel like “herself” when on it. She had stopped seeing a psychologist when she became an adult (age 18) because she adored her psychologist she had as a teenager and found it overwhelming to start all over again with a stranger. She didn’t like telling her “story” over and over again because she had to re-live it each time. The medication helped but it did not cure her of her disorder.

Justine had 3 tattoos. I’m not a big fan of tattoos and I told my daughters to really think about how permanent they are and to choose something that is about them if they ever decided to get one. She really did heed my advice. She had one on her wrist with “Brooks” written on it. The other two were tiny little ones on the back of each shoulder. One was an angel and one was a devil. They were like the TV shows where the angel would whisper the right thing to do in one ear while the devil would tell the wrong thing in the other ear. She was always struggling with making the right decision depending on her mood and her tattoos suited her perfectly! 


Justine was killed in a car accident last year coming home along the freeway at 4:30 a.m. on her way home from her night shift. She was 29 years old.

When I decided to make a memorial garden for her I really wanted to include a fancy designer Daylily. We have a glorious Daylily farm near where I live called “We’re In the Hayfield Now”. It’s a funny name but as the story goes a couple of guys, who were partners in life, moved from the city and bought a farm. The one guy propagated day lilies and they are absolutely stunning! The farm takes your breath away seeing acres of gorgeous lilies in bloom. Sadly the one partner died and now the surviving one runs the farm. I looked online to see which flower I wanted for Justine’s garden and there it was! It’s called “Angel On My Shoulder”! How PERFECT! The theme is”Angels” and it’s a memorial garden so “Angel on my shoulder” has a duel meaning. 

25 thoughts on “Angel On My Shoulder

  1. Dear Cathy,
    It’s so nice to see that you remember your daughter with love and you dedicate your creative pursuits to her.
    I liked reading how you are overcoming your loss with creative gardening.
    It’s a beautiful flower.

    I wish you bliss, peace and love 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a touching tribute to your daughter. I can understand how she would not want to have to “retell” her story again and again. Yet, she made a life for herself. One that ended far too soon. What an angel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wanted her to continue getting counselling but I did understand her hesitation. It’s unfortunate that she was getting along so well with her youth counsellor and had to change. There has to be a better way of doing that. Thanks for your kind words.


  3. You have written such a beautiful remembrance. My mother loved day lilies and planted them on both sides of her driveway. Whenever she found a new variety she bought a small plant and added it the driveway borders. Through the years they have multiplied. Every summer it looks like the whole driveway has burst into bloom. Thank you for sharing both the garden and your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bipolar disorder is a burden for our family as well. My daughter’s dad lost his battle through suicide. His sister has attempted more than once but has somehow found a place of balance. We worry every time one of us gets the least bit depressed that it’s now happening again! I love your story. I love the message, some would call a “God Wink”. You shared such light in a very sad story. Thank you!


  5. One thing I have learned through this journey is how many others are affected by mental illness.I’m hoping that in some small way I can bring it out of the shadows and into the light. Thanks for your lovely note. I’ve never heard of a “God wink” before but I like it!


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