I have had many emotions in the past few months. All of the Seven Stages of Grief have shown up for Roll Call: Shock and Denial, here. Pain and Guilt, present. Anger and Bargaining, yep. Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness, yes, ma’am. The Upward Turn, Yes. Reconstruction and Working Through, yes, indeed. Acceptance and Hope, present and accounted for. The thing that no one tells you is they don’t happen one at a time. All Seven Stages show up for class every day. Not all of them stay all day. Some of them check in later in the day. But it has been a bit of a surprise that all seven like to show up almost every day for longer than you would like. Fortunately, some are just not participating as much as they used to.
So, if you had tried to tell me that I would ever see a silver lining four months ago, I would have thought that you obviously had not experienced anything like the loss of a child. But the hurt is slowly giving way to the reality and The Plan. I am changed. One foot is in heaven and one foot is on earth.
In my heart, my son was a piece of me. In the beginning it felt like the amputation of a limb. How could part of me be in heaven and what was left of me be here walking around with a limp? What do you do with all of the hopes and dreams that you had for this beautiful child? I didn’t let them go by choice. They were taken against my wishes. That’s where the anger comes in. I spent half my life raising this child to the best of my ability, loving him, looking for his gifts and nurturing them. A parent’s greatest joy is seeing their children dream for themselves and giving it all they’ve got.
There is a cardinal that has been hanging out around the house since October. About once a day, the cardinal will perch on a branch while I am standing in front of the kitchen sink. It will just sit there for the longest time as if to say, “Hey, notice me.” The first time that I saw this cardinal in October my first thought was, “Hey, Will.” Now why I thought this I don’t know. We have a lot of birds eating at bird feeders on the patio but I never pay any attention to them. This bird makes me feel differently. The past few weeks it has started landing on the palladium window ledge in the den in direct eyesight from my favorite chair. One afternoon, I was focused on something and I began to hear a Tap. Tap. Tap. I looked up at that window and that bird was looking at me. “Hey, Mom.” It seemed to communicate, “It’s me, Will.” This past weekend, my husband and I were relaxing in the den watching television. Tap. Tap. We looked up at the window. There was the cardinal. “Hey, Mom and Dad.” My husband and I looked at each other with our mouths open.
My husband started seeing a cardinal at his office in October that he can see out of his window while he is doing dental work on his patients. When it flies up, even the dental assistant looks up and notices it. “Hey, Will.” One of the last tasks that we have had to do is sell his car. The car was driven off two Sundays ago. It felt sad to see it go although it was time. It has been sitting in the driveway without moving for so long there is a dark rectangle where it sat. My daughter said that last week every afternoon when she pulled in the driveway to park beside the empty spot, the cardinal has been sitting there. When she pulled in, it didn’t fly away. It sat there a moment after she stopped the car. “Hey, Will.”
Now of course, we all know that this cardinal is not literally Will in a reincarnated form. It is merely a symbol that Will or God knows that we will pay attention to. “I’m here. I am still around.” His physical form is gone but his spirit is still with us. Through experiences like these and other little signs I feel as if I can imagine heaven a little bit better. There is a peace and a feeling that all is as it should be. There is a feeling that God’s presence is in the air that I breathe. This is the gift that I have been given through my son’s passing. I get a glimpse of heaven through my son’s eyes. I get it in small glimpses of light and little brain flutters of affirmation that I am on the right path. The why did this happen is transforming into he was always Yours.
I believe that the purpose of Will’s life was to make his parents and siblings better people. Through Will’s sensitive and gentle spirit we are better people because of him. Will left a family whose hearts are tied to heaven with strings.
There is a Native American saying:
When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die…the world cries and you rejoice.
Love and Peace.
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She writes about life, death, grief, and recovery.