Here’s another truth I’ve learned. Every bereaved parent that I know, if asked, will tell you that we look for — and find — signs and messages from our departed children. I’m sure other bereaved folks, who have lost a parent, sibling, spouse, family member, friend or comrade, have similar stories.
Sometimes we connect through dreams. Or just on the verge of waking. During prayer or meditation.
Maybe we notice the repeated appearance of spiritual symbols, like the presence of a certain butterfly, bird, winged creature or animal. Perhaps every time a penny shows up in the path. When a certain song comes to mind, then is played on the radio. In the presence of a favorite color, appearing where you least expect it.
Maybe we are startled by the periodic and magical flicker of electric lights. The singsong rattle of inexplicable sounds untouched by human hands (and don’t tell me about changes in air pressure, I already know that). A door that opens and closes. Objects moved over and over. Maybe messages given through a medium or a spiritual guide.
Or just in the way certain belongings turn up — a note , drawing, business card book or photo — suddenly visible in a spot that you’re sure was empty of such “stuff” beforehand. Placed where you can find and think about it. Delivered like a telegram.
You might … I’ll understand if you do … think I’m filled with magical or wishful thinking. Yet I believe that I have shared meaningful exchanges with both my daughters, one still living and very active in our mortal world, and one who has moved to a different place.
Maybe you are skeptical. You might think I’m someone desperate for comfort. Possibly not all sane. Or just very gullible.
You are welcome to that viewpoint. I even respect it.
But until you have experienced what I have dreamt, seen, felt, heard and been told by others, you cannot be sure that I’m deranged. Maybe — probably — I’m simply in touch with my child. In whatever way she’s able to connect with me.
Below is a poem by Nancy Wood that I came across while helping gather information for a funeral liturgy. It seems especially comforting, if you imagine it being spoken by someone who is about to leave you, or someone who is trying to connect to you after passing on to the next part of his or her journey.
A long time I have lived with you
And now we must be going
Separately to be together
Perhaps I shall be the wind
To blur your smooth waters
So that you do not see your face too much
Perhaps I shall be the star
To guide your uncertain wings
So that you have directions in the night
Perhaps I shall be the fire
To separate your thoughts
So that you do not give up
Perhaps I shall be the rain
To open up the earth
So that your seed may fall
Perhaps I shall be the snow
To let your blossoms sleep
So that you may bloom in spring
Perhaps I shall be the stream
To play a song on the rock
So that you are not alone
Perhaps I shall be a new mountain
So that you always have a home.