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Monday, October 27, 2008

I'm Back & 3 Signs


It’s been a month since my last post; we’ve shed many tears around here and many hugs. People came out of the woodwork to extend their caring for our family and it all still seems surreal. The comments I have read through the month here, the personal emails, even a phone call or two from a blogging friend have shored me up when I felt the world was more than dim.

But what remains behind, when the dust settles and everyone returns to their daily lives, is the small private moments of faith, and yes, good karma. Signs that the world is bigger than we are, that there is someone watching out for us, have bolstered me through the small moments when the grief can be so over whelming.

I have three signs of good karma to share with you.

My brother was in transition between two apartments and was staying with my parents as one rent cycle closed (Sept. 1) and another began (October 1). After his passing I told my Mom I’d go through his paperwork to see if he had a life insurance policy. Funny the things you talk to your siblings about: the latest vacation, what you’re reading, a good restaurant. But I had no idea if he had life insurance. It just never came up. I came to realize that the entire month of September paperwork was missing and I asked my parents if he had filled out a forwarding address card at the post office. They were fairly sure. Still, I could not find anything up to date in his papers. Putting the papers aside, we went to the funeral parlor to begin planning. Sitting with the funeral director, he told us my brother’s name seemed so familiar to him. My Dad and brother have the same name so Dad explained he was the Historian of the local American Legion and when a veteran in town dies he brings the flag to the funeral parlor for the service—maybe that was it? He shook his head. At that moment, the assistant director walked into the room and said, “Oh, I know why your son’s name seems so familiar. I just moved into his apartment, and by the way, I have his mail, would you like it?” My parents and I just looked at each other, slightly frozen. In a moment, the assistant director went to his trunk and retrieved my brother’s mail for us. The letters all were postmarked “No forwarding address”. It would have taken months to straighten out his estate without this divine intervention!



One evening my brother’s friend and I were trying to figure out health insurance info for the hospital. Again, why would I ever discuss my brother’s health insurance with him? His friend came up with the idea that maybe James had information regarding this on his laptop. Upon opening the laptop, his friend remarked, “Oh, it’s locked. There’s a clue to the password”.
“What’s the clue?” I asked.

“Ernie doesn’t like green eggs”.

When my brother and I were little kids, we used to love to play library. We had a pretty vast kiddie collection and we’d spend hours making the little pockets for inside the covers that would hold the due date cards. We made my parents and ourselves little library cards and would “take out the books”. My kids absolutely die when they hear this story because they cannot believe we did this. “Who plays library?” they’d laugh. Or, as my son would say, “Mom, please do not tell anyone you did this!” My daughter: “That is just so geeky!”

But as soon as James’ friend told me the clue, I knew the answer.

“It’s samiam.”

We were most proud of the Dr. Seuss collection that we had, that I have in our family library to this day, and my little one still reads them.

“Ya think?”, she said, and when she tried it, the computer screen was alight.

We found his health insurance info.



Lastly, my dear elderly neighbor told me the Irish belief of the white feather. She said when a person passes, you’ll see a white feather and you’ll know they are all right. She had been in Ireland with her cousin when she passed away and she saw many white feathers before her return home here to the states.

People tell you funny things when you lose someone. We were on my front lawn when she told me this story, I had just wanted to thank her for coming to the wake and my mind was on the laundry I needed to pull out of the dryer and the dinner I needed to start.

That weekend I took my parents in New York City to visit my son at college. They have been so heartbroken and I thought a trip to see their grandson would take their minds off things for the day. Fall in Manhattan can be so gorgeous and this day was no exception: crisp air, vendors selling warm pretzels on the streets, so much hustle and bustle. We decided to catch a hamburger uptown. After picking up my son, we hailed a taxi. The traffic was more brutal than usual and as we neared 42nd Street, I suggested we hop out of the cab and walk along this famous avenue lined with restaurants. My parents were in great spirits. We had, by chance, landed right near my Dad’s construction union office. My Dad has done construction work on hundreds of city buildings so he was explaining various jobs he did as we sauntered along. One building he was pointing to had a triangular copper roof. We all looked up. He explained to my son that on the day he was born he was on that rooftop and, with a router, furrowed his grandson’s name into one of the roof’s beams. “No one will ever know it is there but you”.

And then, there it was, floating right in front of me: a white feather, about 8 inches long.

I had been holding my Mom’s arm, I gripped her tighter. “What’s the matter?” she asked. I couldn’t speak; I just gave her a big kiss on the shoulder and said, “Nothing”. I couldn’t break the spirit of the day. I kept walking, Dad kept talking. My pulse raced. In the concrete jungle of Manhattan, there are few trees.

We ducked into a small café and ate lunch all the while listening to my son’s college exploits. I was thankful for his effervescence, because in my mind I was already dismissing the white feather as happenstance. I watched my parent’s beaming faces as they heard all of his tales: a new girlfriend from Paris, his art work, his friends. He left us shortly after and we continued walking to Times Square doing a little shopping, drinking coffee at the New Yorker Hotel. We went back to the college to retrieve the car and I suggested to my Dad on the way out of the city I’d open the sunroof in the car and he could point out more buildings to us before we went into the tunnel heading for home. “Great idea!”, he said. I turned onto Third Avenue and opened the roof so he could finish telling us about a building when the tiniest, fluffiest little white feather floated into the car.

All day I had felt that my brother would have loved this day. He, too, went to art college in Manhattan and he would have loved being with us. So when the second white feather floated by, I started to cry, startling both my Mom and Dad. I explained to them my elderly neighbor’s belief and I, the doubting Thomas, had dismissed it. We all had a healthy cry together, one not of sorrow this time but of thinking that maybe James just wanted us to know he’s in a good place.

So many of you wrote wonderful comments that I treasure and have read and reread. I am very thankful and have found solace in your caring. And I believe in good karma, I believe in seeing that silver lining, even if it comes in the mail, or from green eggs, or from a white feather gliding peacefully by.

45 comments:

bj said...

oh, Tara...this post made me cry like a little baby...so sweet..so Godly...
my computer has been down for 2 days. I had done a weeks worth of pre-scheduled postings before I could't get my internet to connect.
Tonight,just before going to bed, I thought, I'll try it one more time....sure enuf, my internet connected,and my blog came up....
the very first name I saw on my comments was yours, telling me you were posting again. I was so happy, I came right on over....I will sleep better tonight knowing you are feeling a little better. And, reading your "signs" makes me feel a little better about MY brother. That is a whole other story that I can't bring myself to talk about right now but I just wanted you to know that GOD meant for me to read your signs tonight...doesn't HE work in such magnificent ways...HE loves it when we can help each other....
love, bj

Pat said...

Oh, dear Tara it is so good to see you here, and this post was so beautiful to read!

I am so glad you had that special day with your parents and son, and had the wonderful experience of seeing those feathers which was a peaceful sign from your brother.
I never heard that old Irish belief, but I do remember having a similar feeling after my father died, of having a sign he was in peace, which also brought me great comfort.

Celebrate James in your life now, and keep his memory in all you do, and know he is a special angel.

Hugs, Pat

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

What wonderful and amazing stories, Tara. Such sweet proof that there is so much more than we can know! My thoughts and prayers for you continue and I'm glad you are back writing again! Best from Edward and myself!

She'sSewPretty said...

Tara, I too am so happy to see you back. Your touching post brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. What a wonderful, uplifting story. I'll never look at a white feather in the same way again. Thank you for sharing.
Big Hugs,

corine said...

This moved me to tears. I too believe in karma. I am so sorry for your loss.

Life on Bonnie Lane said...

Tara, I am so glad to see you are back! What an amazing story. When everything is in God's hands, He just brings little miracles about every day! I especially loved that your neighbor shared the story of the white feathers. And then to actually see them on a special day...wow, that is incredible. While it still hurts so very very much, you will see that the sorrow gets replaced with happy memories. It's starting already! Big hugs to you!

Kady

kari and kijsa said...

Beautiful.
that says it all.

We are so glad you are back, take your time, blogging as it becomes healing. We feel blessed to call you a friend.
kari & kijsa

Tracy said...

Hi, Tara! Wonderful to see you here...and hear your stories and friendly voice. :o) May you & your family continue to find comfort in each other, and find support from all of us out here. We LOVE YOU! :o) Keep your eye on the silver lining, and know you are being embraced by love and good. ((BIG HUGS))

JeannieTheDreamer said...

I love you Tara!

Love,
Jeannie

dlyn said...

Tara - it is good to see you back. Again, I am so sorry for your loss and so glad that your family is helping one another through the sorrow. blessings...

pve design said...

...and I have been making a card for you,"a bowl full of feathers"...truly...cause life's like that, some things are just hard to swallow...and some things leave a tickle.
I loved this post and now must send this card to you!

A Romantic Porch said...

Tara, Bless your heart. You've been in my thoughts. xo rachel

Donna said...

Tara,
I'm so happy you're back. I can hardly see to type through the tears. What a touching story. I believe that your brother was with you that day in New York.

You are in my thoughts.

Blessings and hugs,
Donna

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Hi Tara,
I am glad you are back....I believe in those signs. Your brother will always be with you in your heart and memories.
Hugs,
Penny

Firefly Hill said...

Oh Tara, I am so glad that you are back! I have missed you very much! I am so sorry for your loss...you and your family have been in my thoughts daily. I hope that in time you will heal a little, although I imagine never completely. Your story of the white feather is amazing...

annie

Janet said...

What a wonderful post Tara; I can almost feel the NYC sunshine and smell the food smells wafting from the restaurants. I know your brother would have enjoyed it and he sent the feathers to let you know.

Take care,
Janet

Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

Wow, what a touching story! I'm so sorry about your loss!

spot said...

welcome back. We have missed you, and reading through this post we know why.

Spot and Co

Mary said...

You have been dearly missed. Thank you so much for sharing those faithful stories.

Love, Mary

Barb McMahon said...

Welcome back Tara. You've been missed.

kelly said...

great post, glad you are back!

Deb said...

Welcome back Tara. Thank you for stopping by today and letting me know you are back blogging. What a touching post ... I believe in "signs" too, karma and little white feathers. Thank you for sharing your story.

Rue said...

Oh Tara... I had no idea what was going on and I'm so very sorry for your loss. I believe in the feather and that he sent them to you.

(((hugs)))
rue

Mary said...

Getting a little teary eyed here, Tara! Glad to see you back. What a beautiful story! Wouldn't it be wonderful to write down some stories about your brother, to give to your children as a keepsake... I'm sure it would be a beautiful tribute to your brother...

xoxo,
Mary

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Tara, I didn't know. I have been amiss about visiting my blogging friends because things have been so hectic. I am so so sorry. Your karma post brought tears to my eyes and like the others said I will always look at a white feather differently now. Please know that you and your family are thought of today with love. Hugs to You, Lynn

Kim~"HomeIsWhereTheHeartIs" said...

I was very touched by this post...gave me a lump in my throat and tear to my eye. {{{Hugs}}}

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a nice comment about my bench...I appreciate it!

Abbie said...

Hi Tara,
Oh, you brought tears to my ears. That is the most lovely story, thank you for sharing it with us. Life is an amazing thing, death even more so.
By the way, I used to play Library all the time. You have some lovely memories.. hang on to them, write them down.
Someday your daughter and son will have the friendship you had.
xoxo~
Abbie

Sandi McBride said...

I'm in tears. Back later
love
Sandi

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Tara!
I loved your post, and I have seen the white feathers too. My sister told me about "the gift of receiving white feathers" many many years ago. After she passed I saw tiny fluffy white feathers all the time and it made me feel so good. I'm so so happy that your brother is sending them to you!!
Hugs, Sherry

KarenHarveyCox said...

Tara,
When you wrote about the white feather floating down in the middle of Manhattan I knew. That just had to be your brother, letting you know that he is okay and he was probably so proud of you to help your parents heal with a trip to New York. You have a beautiful family and because you can lean on each other during this difficult time it will be easier. Your stories only remind me why I think that you are so special and so blessed. I am so glad to read such joy in the middle of the tears. Isn't that what God says, Joy comes in the morning after the tears.

Blessings, Karen

CIELO said...

I'm so glad to see you back... Our Heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing.... keep your faith alive.

Hugs and blessings to you and your family

cielo

Nikella said...

Hi,

I tried to write a message to you under your last entry and it didn't let me. I guess your comment box was "overflowing'.

I have been thinking a lot about you these last weeks and waiting for another entry in your blog, just so I know you are ok. A tiny bit ok.

Sending you a big hug!

M.Kate said...

Dearest Tara, this is the most moving post I have ever read. The signs are all there and they are all positive. He stays with you and your family, he's in your heart. He may have left physically but never spiritually. When my dad died, I was so stricken with grief and I needed something, anything to show that he is OK, it was so important to me. It was at the churh and everyone was praying and sad. In a moment between reality and not, I felt him hugging me saying that it's ok, cant see him actually but i felt this huge bright light hugging me and I knew it was him. Till today, I remember that brief moment well. Your brother will always be with you, in everyway and I know its easy for me to say but time really does heal. I am glad that the answers unfold one by one and whatever hindrances are settled. It's his way of showing his presence. Again, you will always be in my prayers. Much love and big hugs :D

laura said...

What a beautiful and encouraging post. You gave me the shivers, however. We are Irish and I had never heard the white feather story. Having said that, when I saw the photo you have at the beginning of the post I thought it quiet coincidental that after my Dad died I was wandering around the ranch and found a white feather next to an old red brick. The juxtaposition of hard and soft struck me so that I did a little arranging and made a photo that I love and use on...sympathy cards. Oh, we are all so much closer than we know. Sweetness and light to you and your family.

Cottage Contessa said...

Oh Tara, I'm speechless. This post is just so beautiful and touching that now I'm crying as I type this. Sweetie all I can say is that you are on my mind, on my heart, and in my prayers......
Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

bj said...

Hello, Tara...just thinking of you and wanted to say I hope you are feeling a little better ea day. We NEVER stop missing loved ones but it does get softer as time goes by.
love, bj

Kathleen Grace said...

Hi Tara, I just had my new computer installed (relief!) and had to stop by. I have really missed seeing you and it is so good to have you back. I will continue to remember your family in my prayers. God does work in mysterious ways and we can find help and comfort in the most unusual ways. Big ((hugs)) sent your way to help you keep on going in this rough time in your life!

Katherine said...

just happened to stumble onto your blog and this story brought tears to my eyes, as I'm sure it has for others. Sorry for your loss but keep looking for the feathers.

dana said...

That was such a moving experience you just told us about. Thank you for sharing that experience with us. I have not heard about "the white feather" before, but I certainly believe in being touched by our loved ones---even when we think they are no longer with us---they are!!! What a comforting feeling you must've received from those white feathers. dana

Linda at Lime in the Coconut! said...

What a beautiful, soulful post. I write through the blur of tears in my eyes.

To white feathers...to life!

Best to you and yours.

Indigo Robe said...

I also noticed on the previous post on Sept. 29th, you have posted a photo of a seagull.... with a belly of white feathers! What made you post that photo?!

Signs are so comforting. I am so glad that you had these beautiful feathers to let you know your brother is well and at peace.

Hugs!

Gina said...

Such a beautiful and moving post Tara..thinking of you..and it's so lovely to have you back. Take Care, Gx

Lisa said...

I am so glad to see you have returned to blog land. I missed you a great deal. I love these reminders that our loved ones always seem to find a way to let us know everything is ok. Time will help to ease some of the intense ache, but you will always have memories such as this. Be well!

Amy at Bunny Rose Cottage said...

Oh Tara, I am so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

(((HUGS)))
Amy

Kathi said...

Tera, I'm so sorry for the loss of your brother. Your story of playing library was so sweet. God is so good to make all those things happen for you. May he continue to comfort you. Bless you dear.

Kathi