My daughter turned two precisely one week before my mother died. The morning we got the news, we all piled into two cars to drive four hours to the area she lived; the silence in the car was palpable. You could hear a sniffle here or there, but it was overwhelmingly quiet. Even music would have been an intrusion. Sitting there among our shock was Abby, just barely two years old. She rode for four hours with us, somehow following this unspoken code of silence.
That night we stayed at my Dad’s house. My husband and I were sleeping in a king-size bed with this little girl sandwiched between us. My body and mind were in a fog of shock and grief, and I was both exhausted and afraid to sleep. Sleeping would result in waking and would confirm the beginning of a new reality. I somehow drifted off, giving in to the utter exhaustion of the day. I awoke to Abby stirring; she sat straight up in bed. I encouraged her to lay back down, and she turned to look at me, made eye contact, and began stroking my arm with her tiny hand. Clear as day; she said, “This is hard.” Then she continued to comfort me with her little hand and her eyes looking straight into my own puffy, red, and weary eyes. The whole encounter was short; as quickly as she had sat up, she laid back down and was back off to sleep. It felt so surreal as if she knew what was happening. My little girl, who had turned two years old a week before, who was barely making complete sentences at this point, looked me in the eye and said these words to me as clearly as if she had been speaking for years. I got out of bed to find a piece of paper and pen to write it down, to remind myself that it had not been a dream.
Deep down, I wanted to believe it was a message for me from my mom. She was someone who loved Tarot cards and had multiple books on Astrology, writing out different family members astrological charts for them and analyzing what they meant. She believed in the supernatural, and every time I see a Ouija Board, I think of the time we used one together on vacation along the Massachusetts coast. She had readings by mediums, and she believed in their abilities. One of the greatest attributes of my mother was her confidence. If she believed in something, then that was that.
Her ability to believe in something wholeheartedly was not a trait that I inherited. I tried briefly to fortify some religious beliefs and abandoned that effort rather quickly. I have wanted to believe in signs from the universe but have always felt the persuasive power of those who think it is rubbish. It brings out my inner insecurities, assuming the people around me must know more than I do. When someone laughs about this stuff, I give an uncomfortable chuckle, a weary betrayal of myself that only blurs my own beliefs even further.
Looking back on the past 12 years since my mother’s death, which includes four years of grieving my brother, I can see distinct moments that I will call the magical moments of my grief. The tiny things felt larger than life—the winks from the universe.
It began with the middle of the night “This is hard” proclamation and soul staring gaze of my two-year-old and has continued in many moments that I hold close and privately. However, the most recent of these universe winks, magical moments, or whatever you choose to call them, happened this summer on August 1st, the anniversary of my mom’s death.
My brother was on vacation with his wife and children, and we made plans to facetime after the kids were in bed to make a small toast to our mom. We did just that; my husband and I from our living room couch and my brother and his wife from their hotel room. We caught up about life and their trip and acknowledged our mom and the significance of the day. Within five minutes of hanging up the phone, my brother sent me a text message of a photo he had just taken. It was a deck of cards and our youngest brother’s student ID from 2009-2010. He and his wife had packed cards from home for their trip, and when we ended our call, they dumped the cards out to begin playing… and out fell this ID. Our youngest brother had died four years earlier. He was incredibly close to our mom, and her death was a catalyst for many of the struggles that followed. The fact that his picture was there, the student ID from the same year our mom died, in that deck of cards that just happened to be packed on a trip and opened on the anniversary of her death just after we hung up was astounding. It was magical. It was my wink from the universe that they are together.
Sometimes, we are challenged to believe without concrete evidence. Sometimes growing as a human is finding the courage to stand tall in our beliefs, even when others downplay them. Loss and grief haven’t been what I may have envisioned they would be. I don’t see signs everywhere. I don’t dream about them nearly as often as I wish I would. I don’t feel comfortable talking out loud to my loved ones who have passed away. But I do believe that these magical moments are meant for me and that they have significance. I think that each grieving person will have extraordinarily meaningful moments, and no one has to understand why. That is the beauty of magic.
Would you mind sharing your magical moments in the comments?