Friday, December 10, 2010

Signs


Shad Bay, Nova Scotia


I don't know about you, but when each of my parents died, I got what I took as a sign. In my mother's case, it was a glorious sunrise. A few minutes after Mum passed, the nurse opened the curtains in her room to reveal an absolutely exquisite dawn. At the time, I knew in my heart it was my mother saying she was okay.

Last week, my neighbour told me to watch for a sign after Gordon's father died. I was a bit frustrated when nothing happened during the first few days. And if anyone were going to send a sign, I figured it would be George, who, despite being a nominal Christian, firmly believed in reincarnation! I think he was partly Buddhist at heart.

By the day of the cremation and service, I figured I wasn't going to get my sign. It was a chilly Tuesday when we drove to the chapel in downtown Toronto. When we arrived at the cemetery, it was icy and cold, and I got out of the car and went straight to the back door to help Mom out. And as I turned around, I saw it: a huge gravestone with the name "Campbell" inscribed across the top. We had inadvertently parked right next to a stone that bore my father-in-law's surname. It was my sign!

Now, I know full well this can all be put down to coincidence. Campbell is a pretty common surname in Canada. And I am a pretty "sensible" person, but I have to admit, I like to leave my heart open to possibility. For instance, I have never seen a ghost, but no one has ever proven to me that they don't exist, so who knows?

Two years after my mother died, I was missing her on her birthday. I happened to open a drawer in my dining room that day, and found a box of matches. Not very exciting, except that the matches had come from a Japanese restaurant we took Mum took for her birthday celebration a couple of years before she died! I chose to take that as another sign. My rational mind knows that can easily be ascribed to coincidence, but you know what? It gave me comfort! And who knows, maybe my Mum DID decide to send me a message via matchbox. :)

So when I got out of our car last Tuesday and saw the big Campbell tombstone squarely facing me, almost larger than life, I felt comforted. I felt like Gordon's Dad was telling us that he was where he was supposed to be, yet he was also with us in spirit on the day of his cremation and service. That's what I choose to believe, and it makes me feel happier.

What about you? Have you ever had signs after someone has died? I guess that wouldn't apply to the atheists amongst you, but who knows, maybe there's some last hurrah as the spirit goes out? I no longer belong to any religion, but my own belief is that the essence of us, our spirit, does go on in some form after our human body fails.

I am interested in what people think about this. Have you had a sign after a loved one has died?

20 comments:

  1. A couple of months after my grandmother died, I had a dream about her. She was sitting in her chair at her house, smiling. I believe this was a "visit". I had been saddened, concerned, worried, about how she felt as she passed, was she in pain etc. Then, I had this dream/visit. A calm came over me after that. I knew she was OK.

    I had a dream/visit about a man who died in NYC on 9/11/2001. Actually I had a few dreams about him. I was able to track his name down, and see a picture of him based on my dreams/visits. He worked for that cantor group.

    I've had other dreams/visits. These two stand out.

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  2. After my dad died, my sister and I both saw the lights go on and off in the living room a few times. And I wonder if I ever told you about my experience with the jacuzzi. Very odd. Went off on it's own as did the taps. I had to turn on the Kill switch to stop the jets. And had to call a plumber to check the taps. I swear it was my father who took a tub every night. The plumber came over and although nothing was wrong, he told me about the 2 heaters to turn on under the house when the weather turned cold...something my dad had never told me about and he died suddenly.
    To this day, I believe it was my father's way of taking care of me.

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  3. I get signs often from my grandmother, but sometimes from my sister and great grandmother, too. Little things that I wouldn't have noticed, had I not been thinking of them. I like to think that they're making sure I'm looked after.

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  4. The year my father died my husband and I had put a new roof on the garage. It was hard work in bitter cold and blustery winds. my father was very excited and appreciative. A few months later he passed away, and afterwards my mother found a long roofing nail sitting my my father's place at the table. He had always brought in things he found outside and placed them by his place at the table. No one else was in the house at the time except my mother who found the nail.

    I have other signs from other people, but this one sticks in my mind right now. I believe in the hereafter and know that people's spirits just don't "go away" after death. The thought comforts me.

    Just recently I swear I saw the form of a man in my kitchen, and then he disappeared! I have no idea who he was - and my husband thinks I'm nuts! Who knows!!! :)

    ~Lynn

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  5. Like you, I believe that the spirit or soul of a person leaves their body and lives on. Believing this has brought me great comfort as I bade farewell to several family members and other loved ones.
    Years ago, when my 18 yr. old brother was accidentally killed when struck by a transport truck while walking along the highway. Staying at my parents home a few days after his funeral, a bird flew into the house and down to the basement. It perched on the hot water heater briefly then flew back outside through the open door. My mother (who loved birds) and I both believed that it was the spirit of my brother just letting her know that he was going to be O.K.

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  6. Shortly after my mother died, I purchased a CD of Russian liturgical music called Peacock's Feather and played it as I was getting ready at home before the funeral. We all met at the funeral home first, and in the entry, on a prominent table was an arrangement, with - of all things - peacock feathers - I was stunned. I don't know about you, but I don't often see those in funeral floral arrangements.

    I think I am still waiting from a sign from my father who died a year later (2005).

    As for my brother, and this I struggle with the most (as maybe you have read in my blog) - because the fact is, we do not know when exactly he died - sometime late August 2003 - and we were not informed until October. A long strange and complicated story - with no real "closure". I often think, what was I doing at the moment of his passing? Was I laughing? Swimming in the lake? Such thoughts are unbearable, so I try to stay away from them. A recurrent dream is that he is back, or never was dead after all - he is there in front of me, healthy and whole. And then I wake up...

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  7. I am sorry - I forgot to send my sympathy your way, on your loss.

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  8. My Dad leaves bird feathers for me whenever I'm over at my mother's house taking care of things for her. Just his way of acknowledging what I do. Also, on my grandson's first Christmas I felt that my Dad was going to give me some kind of sign that he was there with us. Sure enough, one of my grandson's toys started playing by itself. The tune was "You Are My Sunshine", which my Dad used to sing to me a lot when I was little.

    I've had "visits" from pets that have passed on too. We had one ghost dog that ran around our house every night for a year, until the passing of one of our other dogs.

    Your seeing the Campbell tombstone was perfect, Natalie. He made sure you wouldn't miss it, didn't he?

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  9. These stories are fantastic! Keep 'em coming!!

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  10. I have two sons. My third child, Christine, was born in 1961, and she lived only one day. She's in her own world, but it's not separate from mine, and she never left my side. I often speak to her, and I write poems for her, in French and in English. Here's the one I wrote when she would have been 8 years old.
    ---------------------------------
    To Christine,
    IN YOUR WORLD

    Do you write a poem
    when your heart overflows
    with feelings much too big
    for simple, mundane words?

    Do you create music
    with one or two fingers
    smiling with enchantment
    at the young melody?

    Do you look at the stars
    with a thousand questions
    wishing that you could go
    wishing that one would fall?

    Do you sing to the snow
    dancing on the window,
    and to the autumn leaves
    dying with such splendour?

    Do you go near a lake
    and choose with attention
    a flat stone, and then skim
    the water gracefully?

    And whenever you come
    walking in my Garden
    do you feel my two arms
    so gently holding you?

    Do you hear my whispers,
    do you share my wonder?
    Do you know that my love
    for you is never gone,
    and that I see myself
    in your unmarred Beauty,
    that you're breathing through me,
    that I'm growing through you
    and that your death is Life?
    -----------------------------------

    Of course they hear us, Knatolee. And they give us signs. And they sustain and protect us. The human spirit never dies and remains connected with loved ones.

    One of my nieces is an artist. Once, she had an exhibition of her paintings, and I saw, on the wall, this beautiful young woman of 30-35years old, a bit in a mist. My niece had had no model for that painting. My heart started beating wildly. I just recognised my daughter. I bought the painting. It's above my piano, next to my sons'photos. She is really part of the family for all eternity.

    Thank you for listening, Knatolee. You are such a loving spirit. Your parents could never part from you .

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  11. I'm sorry to hear of your father-in-law's passing. I believe in signs. I had a grandfather who was everything to me (had raised me for the first several years of me life.) The night he passed, I had a dream of him hugging me and telling me I would be okay - I always felt comforted by that.

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  12. I was around 7 yrs old and was at my dads house and his phone rang. I saw a picture of my grandma in my head and told my sister grandma died. My dad got off the phone and told us that she had died. I don't know if it was a goodbye visit or if I was just thinking of her.

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  13. Claude!! That poem is so beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes!! Thank you for sharing it.

    All these stories are so amazing and poignant. Thanks to all of you for sharing them. They brought me a lot of comfort. Gordon was amazed too.

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  14. ANd Anya, I have not seen peacock feathers at any funerals or funeral homes. That's an amazing story. (Well, all of these stories are amazing!)

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  15. We buried my Mom's ashes in a private ceremony on her birthday. The cemetery is surrounded by a circle of pines. When we entered a large hawk announced it's presence from the top of the tree nearest her gravestone. We all agreed that was Phyllis, still keeping watch over us.
    We look for signs and we find them. It helps.

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  16. Natalie, here's an update on signs. My Dad's birthday was yesterday (Dec. 15) and if he were still alive he would have been 95 years old. In the morning I thought that it would be neat if I could receive some kind of sign that he knew I was thinking of him. (I mentioned here before that he leaves me feathers.) Then I happened to think of Anya's comment about the peacock feathers.

    I didn't give it anymore thought until later when I was reading the New York Times online and a closeup photo of a peacock feather caught my eye. Then a bit after that I was reading an unrelated story that mentioned peacocks twice in the text and had a photo of two little Korean girls standing in front of a peacock cage. Hmmm...my heart kind of skipped a beat because I figured "Aha! There are my signs."

    But it didn't stop there. They always come when you're not expecting them, so later that evening I was watching a program on t.v. about Paris in the 1920s and there was a painting by Gaugin that featured...a peacock. And during one of the commercial breaks on a show on Christmas decorating that I watched after that, what else?...another closeup of a peacock feather!

    Why so many peacock feather references in that particular day? Coincidence? You decide. I just said "Thanks, Dad. Happy birthday!" :)

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  17. Wow, Fran! ANd I agree, it helps.

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  18. TTPT, that was an AWFUL LOT of peacock feathers!!!! A few too many for mere coincidence, in my opinion. Great story!

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  19. I have another one for you. The day after I got back from Toronto, I went into the lower barn. A mourning dove has been roosting in there at times. The dogs startled it and instead of flying out the big open doorway, it flew to the nearby window and started to panic. I managed to pick it up and carry it over to the doorway, but when I opened my hands, it just sat there quietly, turned its head and looked at me for about 20 seconds, maybe more. Then it flew off. Usually when I pick up birds like that (I often seem to be rescuing birds from window situations!) they fly right off!

    I just felt like the dove was telling me something. :)

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  20. Ohhhh, Nat... That dove incident is a sign!

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!