Kim Marsella’s late mom lights up her daughter’s life by darkening it

Sisters Kim, Candace and Jennifer.

Sisters Kim, Candace and Jennifer. Light—and darkness—mark memories of their mother.

On January 21, 1988, Ava Goldberg dropped her oldest daughter off at a friend’s house. On the way home, her car veered off the road. Possibly due to a brain aneurysm, Ava swerved across 3 lanes and crashed into a tree. A passerby saw the accident and stopped. She approached Ava’s crumpled vehicle and pulled out its dead driver, just as the car was catching fire. It was later determined the impact had crushed Ava’s heart.

My friend Kim Marsella was one of Ava’s daughters. She was 14 at the time. She remembers older sister Jennifer running into the kitchen crying, screaming “Mommy’s gone!”


Ava Goldberg

Ava had 3 daughters. Divorced for 12 years, she supported her family as a dining room manager at a country club in Woodbridge, CT. Kim remembers snuggling on her Mom’s bed with her sisters, watching Dynasty and sitcoms on TV. Ava bowled and played Mahjongg, Kim says, but her girls came first. “She worked hard to provide us with the best.” Private school, sleep away camp and vacations. Sunday nights, after dinner, Ava led the charge for family games of kickball or Rover, Rover.

“She was warm, nurturing and charismatic. Whoever met her was her friend for life.”

After the accident, Kim and her sisters moved in with Ava’s mother and father, Leila and Marvin Goldberg, who lived nearby.

At Ava’s graveside Jewish funeral, snow dusted the ground. 500 people attended. Kim and her sisters and others stayed to shovel a bit of dirt on the coffin. After, a shiva (a period of mourning in which friends and family visit) took place at the Goldbergs’ small house. Among the guests was singer Michael Bolton, driving a blue Porsche. (He grew up in Woodbridge with Ava.)

A middle aged stranger walked into the shiva. She asked to speak to family members. Several of Kim’s relatives gathered in a bedroom. Kim doesn’t know the stranger’s name. All she remembers is her greyish/blondish hair. She never saw her again. The woman revealed she was the one who had pulled Ava from her car; Ava was already dead.

The stranger then said, “Please don’t think I’m a quack. But I have a special skill. I’m clairvoyant. Did Ava have straight teeth and a beautiful smile?” According to Kim, “We all said yes.” The stranger then said, “Ava appeared to me in a vision. She was with a woman she was close to. They’re together and very happy.”

Just as the clairvoyant stranger spoke, the house turned dark. All the lights went out. An especially significant Godsign considering the entire family consisted of electrical contractors. Kim’s grandfather, dad, uncles—all electricians. Kim was an electrical assistant.

“Spirits often communicate through electricity,” the stranger said. For years, Kim’s grandmother had pleaded with her husband to install nicer lighting in their home, the kind he installed for his customers. He had finally done so. The house was filled with dimmers and mood lighting. But as soon as the clairvoyant spoke to the family, every ceiling light and lamp went dark.

Several family members traipsed to the basement. The main circuit breaker had popped. All the breakers needed to be reset.

Ever since that day, Kim says, lights around her constantly burn out. Especially in her bedroom and bathroom. She’s learned to buy light bulbs in bulk.

Another outcome of Ava’s tragic accident: the Amity Junior High girls softball team began wearing AG patches on their shirts. They retired Kim and Candace’s jersey, numbers 2 and 15, when they grew old enough to stop playing.

Ava would be proud of her daughters. Kim’s retired from a successful career as a transportation company exec. Twin sister Candace Marsella designs jewelry for her own business, Smashing Jewels. Older sister Jennifer Marsella is an actress who’s become a masseuse.

Kim is one of the most positive people I know. She’s always smiling (especially when she hits a good golf shot, which I’m here to tell you occurs often). Yet as a child, she suffered a sudden loss from which others might never have recovered.

What’s her secret?

“Losing my mom made me stronger. I learned that tomorrow’s not guaranteed. So I’d better be happy today.”

Well said, Kim. Thanks for the reminder. It’s the AG effect, making spirits bright.

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20 thoughts on “Kim Marsella’s late mom lights up her daughter’s life by darkening it

  1. Suzy Farbman Post author

    As emailed from Carmen Adams
    Beautiful! Always thought Kim was a special young woman, but had no idea she had gone through anything like this. Thanks.

  2. Jeanette Kudick

    Loved your story Kim. I am a also a twin, and we lost our Mom when we were 12 years old. I do believe
    that it has made me a stronger person, and a more compassionate person. A strong supportive loving
    family helped us. Bless you and your beautiful sisters!

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Didn’t realize you and Kim had such similar backgrounds. And both turned out to be loving, gracious adults. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  3. Delin

    An enlighten story !
    I lost my mother this year , now I understand !
    May light guide our lives and the path to eternity ……………

  4. Sandra Baer

    Hmmm, Suzy
    Great story, I am a big believer, All of my lights went out today, right in front of my electrician, who put in the 3rd switch……WHO is visiting me? I think I know………….

  5. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Karen Dowejko to Kim Marsella
    Kim, I was so uplifted by Suzy’s Godsigns blog post about your beloved mother. Suzy’s articles show us that death is not an ending but a beginning. Thanks to BOTH OF YOU for sharing your story.

    1. Suzy Farbman Post author

      Thanks, Karen, for your lovely comment. It was an honor to share your and Kim’s stories. And to bring you both a tiny bit of comfort in your grief.

  6. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Lynne Proctor
    So enjoyed reading about Kim’s sad experience. What a tragic story. You wrote about it beautifully.

  7. Suzy Farbman Post author

    It was purely my pleasure, Kim. That story, and one to follow, made our drive to Orlando fly by. Ava was clearly terrific–as are you!

  8. Suzy Farbman Post author

    as emailed from Kim Marsella
    Thank you for bringing me back to remembering what a wonderful person my mom was and the great memories of my childhood that have molded me as the person I am today. I appreciate you!

  9. Ilise Goldberg

    Omg, that really is so so beautiful and I am so touched and honored that my first grandchild is named for Ava Goldberg. And let me tell you, there is a very special light with her always. LOVE ALWAYS AND FOREVER. ILISE

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