FOLLOWING THE SIGNS

I’ve missed David so much the last two weeks. I miss him 24/7, of course, but most days I carry my grief like something tucked in my pocket. Like a cell phone, a Kleenex or a set of keys. I know it’s there. I’ve grown used to it. It’s part of me.

Other days, raw grief still claims me. As I waited to cross a parking lot earlier this week, a memory of David ignited in my mind. A renewed sense of loss punched me in the gut, and I thought I’d double over right there on the pavement.

It occurs to me that at such moments, perhaps David is trying to get my attention.

The last three months, since my last post, have been very busy. Lots of family stuff — birthdays, graduations, anniversaries. Easter and Mother’s Day. A baby shower. A weekend in New York City. Memorial Week at the lake. Way too many emails to answer at the newspaper. Plus outdoor jobs to tackle, a yard to ready for summer.

I haven’t had quiet time to focus on David. Which, I think, produces more grief. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? You’d think the more he occupied my mind, the more I’d grieve, but it’s actually the opposite. When I’m thinking about him, somehow he’s here, with me, in real time. When I don’t think about him, he’s somewhere beyond my reach.

The other night I was lying in bed, trying to unwind and fall asleep, when it felt like David was there. He wanted to know when I — when “we” — were going to get back to writing. I sighed. What’s the point? How does writing help? “It doesn’t bring you back in the way I want you to be, in the flesh-and-blood way you were before,” I said.

“You need to write about the signs,” I felt him answer.

Well, that’s a tall order. There seem to have been so many. Where do I start? I guess I’ll start with today.

Hopper and I were taking a long walk this morning, down the trail near Autumnwood Pool, where for many summers David was part of the swim team. All at once, there in front of us, was a mug on the ground. It was startling to see it lying there. Who would drop a perfectly nice mug at the edge of the path?

Immediately, David came to mind. One December many years ago, when he was just a little guy, David found at the school bus stop a coffee mug painted with red-and-green nutcrackers. He said when he saw it, he thought, “Mom would like this.” He waited several days to see if anyone else would claim it, and when no one did, he brought it home and proudly presented it to me. I still have it. I use it every Christmas.

David's mug


Was this mug on the path another gift from David? I picked it up. It was in perfect condition — not a chip or a scratch. It was white with two swirly sage-green flowers on it. The colors impressed me.

For the past week or so, I’ve been trying to choose colors for the kitchen at our lake house, which sorely needs updating. After viewing hundreds of pins on Pinterest, I settled on green and white. The green paint I chose is Benjamin Moore’s “Sweet Caroline.”

At first, the green on the mug looked a lot lighter than “Sweet Caroline.” But when I got home, I sat the mug next to the paint chip. The colors are so close, it’s kind of eerie.

It can be hard to believe in signs. You tell yourself you’re simply witnessing strange coincidences. But eventually the preponderance of evidence — the sheer number of signs, synchronicity that resonates too deeply and too personally to be explained away — starts to convince you that something bigger is going on.

Not far from where Hopper and I found the mug, I spied a paper tag on an elastic string. I picked it up. It was a United Airlines tag to attach to a wheelchair. David is the only person I’ve ever pushed in a wheelchair. The “gift” tag seemed to be his way of saying the mug was from him.

Maybe David left the mug to say he likes my color choices. Maybe he left it just to let me know he’s watching, an affirmation of his existence. To assure me that he’s still near and is waiting for us to connect again.

I did some research online and discovered the name of the porcelain pattern: “Eloquence.” If these signs are truly from David, I think he’s found an eloquent way to communicate.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment