Borderline shooting victim's mother still gets messages from her daughter

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (KABC) -- It's been a year of physical and spiritual healing for Wendy Sparks, whose daughter Noel, was killed last year in the mass shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill.

Like all the families of loved ones who were lost that day - it's been difficult to reflect on what happened. Wendy said she sees signs of her daughter that constantly remind her of Noel's presence, and that gives her strength and purpose.

Inside her Simi Valley home, there's a shrine celebrating the life of Noel Sparks. It's meticulously cared for by her mother who still feels connected to her daughter.

"She was my best friend. We were soulmates," said Wendy.

One year ago, Noel was murdered at the Borderline Bar and Grill. The shrine gives a glimpse into Noel's 21 years of life.

She was a singer, a cellist, a devout Christian and also Wendy's caretaker. When Noel was young, a brain injury left Wendy disabled for life. It affects Wendy's speech and her ability to walk.

"Most kids - it would be hard on them, but it wasn't a burden to her. She wanted to help me," Wendy said.

The day her daughter was killed, Wendy was once again in the hospital for a routine procedure. Noel went to the hospital before going to the Borderline Bar and Grill.

"That morning we talked and she said, 'Let me get this straight. You want be cremated and planted around fruit trees?' And I said 'Yea, that's what I want.' She goes, 'Well I want to be cremated too. And I want to be put up in the Redwoods and up at Hume Lake.' Special places that she loved. I said, 'OK, you can tell other people that, I'm not going to be around for that.' I was around for that. I had no idea that she was literally telling me at that point, what she wanted," Wendy said.

Hours later, when Wendy woke up from surgery, she was alone in her hospital, in a fog from the medication. At the time, she had no idea that Noel was at the Borderline, or that Noel had been killed. Wendy said she clearly remembers being jolted awake from her slumber.

"The next thing I know, Noel was there (in the hospital room). And she was running her arm down me going, 'Everything is going to be OK mom. Just lay back down. You just had surgery.' I remember the heat in her arm. It was really warm, just lulling me and she's saying, 'Mom, everything is going to be OK.' And she slowly lulled me back to sleep. In the back of my mind I'm thinking, what is Noel doing here? And the next thing I know the phone is ringing off the hook."

Wendy said she was snapped back into reality. On the phone, was her son. He told her no one could find Noel.

"I said, 'Don't say things like that to me right now.' He said, 'No mom, I'm telling the truth. There was a shooting at Borderline and nobody can find Noel. Everybody is looking for her. The church is out, the whole town is out, nobody can find her.' And then all of it starts flashing back. About her being in my room with me, about her comforting me and telling me to go back to sleep."

Wendy believes Noel is always around, sending her messages in unexpected ways.

Before Noel died last year, she begged Wendy for a special Christmas, which was a concern as they'd lost all their ornaments and decorations. Weeks after Noel was killed, a package from Noel's old ceramics studio, was delivered to Wendy.

"In it, stars and angels. Ornaments. She made me a whole box of ornaments. And all the angels are hand painted. Their hair and colored headbands, different colored skirts."

To Wendy, it's a sign her daughter will always be there.

"I loved her so much. She was so good to me. She was truly an angel," Wendy said.
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