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'She's happy to go home': Woman's ashes reveal touching surprise during TSA inspection

Loretta Schenk says when a TSA agent at Sea-Tac Aiport swabbed a container of her sister's ashes, a blue heart appeared on the test strip. (Courtesy Loretta Schenk)

SEATTLE (KOMO) - When a loved one passes away, we often become more aware of little things that remind us they'll always be with us.

For some people it's when they see rainbows, for others it's certain flowers or even ladybugs. But for one woman, it was a surprise that appeared while she was going through a TSA checkpoint at Sea-Tac Airport with some special cargo.

Loretta Schenk and her husband were flying home to Maui from Washington State last Tuesday, after a family gathering to bury her sister. Her sister, Teri Pearson, passed away in June after a long battle with cancer.

Schenk had a container with some of her sister's ashes tucked in her carry-on bag, to take back to the islands. While she was going through security, she was pulled aside for a bag check.

"She goes, 'Oh, you're bringing sand back to Maui,' and I said, 'No, that's my sister and her ashes. I'm [bringing] her back to Maui and spreading her ashes,'" said Schenk.

Schenk said the TSA agent swabbed the container and as she was talking to the agent, something unexpected happened.

"All of a sudden while I'm packing my bag up she goes, 'Oh my goodness,' and I said, 'What?' and she goes, 'Look!" said Schenk.

The TSA agent held up the test strip which showed a blue heart had appeared.

"First thing I thought of was, 'Yep, Teri is with me and she's happy to go home. She's glad she's out of pain,'" said Schenk. "She fought the fight of all fights."

Schenk said the TSA agent was in disbelief and said she'd never seen anything like that before.

"I saw a tear coming out of her eye and then she called two other TSA agents over to show them, and they said they've never seen it either," said Schenk. "So it was like, yep, Teri's talking to me."

Schenk said her sister had always had a special love for Hawaii. It's where Pearson met her husband and where their three daughters were born.

She said Pearson first moved to the island of Oahu in the late 1960s while on a trip with some girlfriends after they graduated high school.

"We had to pack up her stuff back in Washington and ship it over to her and she made a new life on the island," said Schenk.

The Pearsons eventually moved back to Port Orchard, Washington, in 1990.

Schenk said her sister's battle with breast cancer began in 2000. She then had two battles with esophageal cancer in 2013 and 2016.

"She (Teri) told me, 'I'm not afraid to go. I'm just afraid for everybody who I leave behind," said Schenk.

Schenk said she knew her sister would somehow find her way back to Hawaii for good.

"This was the first time Teri came to me and it was in a special way, because it was like her telling me, 'Thank you for bringing me home,'" said Schenk. "So, she just needed to come home."

She said she plans to spread some of Pearson's ashes at Kama'ole Beach on Maui, where the two spent a lot of time together.

"Her being home is like a security blanket. She's going to be with me forever," said Schenk.

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