I find “signs” from the universe or the departed to be problematic. My feelings are deeply mixed. Anything can be a sign if you force a meaning to a coincidence. Coincidences, too, are something that are interpretative. Is it chaos finding order for a moment? Or is it God winking at you?
I don’t know. I don’t have answers. I will never feel one way or another about them.
I told you that to tell you this…
When Joe was alive he loved bald eagles. We had statues. We had tacky art. We had all manner of bald eagle paraphernalia that I didn’t particularly care for but he loved so I let him decorate the TV stand and moved on. It’s not that I dislike bald eagles, I just don’t find them to be particularly kind to my decorating ascetic.
I can’t remember if it was the day of or the day after his funeral, I was driving somewhere and a bald eagle swooped down in front of my car. It did a big circle and was gone back to the trees. It was the first time I’d ever seen a bald eagle in the wild.
Was it a sign? I don’t know. But it did something to me. Not peace or relief but something more subtle. Just a little twinge in my heart.
In the past couple of weeks, the subject of “signs” has been rolling around in my thoughts. I didn’t have an eagle experience after Z passed. And I was kind of disappointed. But, again, it is what it is. Whatever. All things in their own time. Was I not being specific enough? Is Z too busy? I mean, she is a teenager and teenagers are not interested in their parents. And you do have to ask them to do something 10 times before they’ll actually do it.
I don’t like “signs” either – so maybe I didn’t need one.
This past Saturday I went to the beatification mass at Ford Field. I made my friend Tom go early because I wanted some merchandise. I had stuff to buy for several people and I figured there’d be long lines for commemorative mugs and t-shirts and whatnot.
When we got in, there was nothing. The only items for sale were water, pop, and roasted nuts. Nothing else. I didn’t even see a place to buy hot drinks.
I was so, so disappointed. On my list of wanted merch was a rosary for me. That’s all I really wanted for myself, this rosary. I didn’t want to buy one online after mass because it wouldn’t be the same. I wanted to buy one at this mass. And nothing. Ugh.
Tom and I went to our seats and eventually a woman came to sit to the seat on my left. She gave some of her tickets to my dad to give to me after I started looking for them. I’d never met her before. She said “Oh, I gave you my tickets!” I said yes and thanked her. I was so happy to be able to go.
She said she had something for me and started digging through her purse. It took a minute but she came up with a little brown envelope, opened it up and slid a rosary into my hand. She’d made it for me out of Job’s tears beads.
She didn’t have a rosary for anyone else. Just me.
I closed my hand and started crying. I cried all through mass. I cried on the way home. I mean, I cry a lot lately so that’s not really something new for me right now, but still.
Maybe this coincidence was just that and nothing more. Maybe it was my sign from Z. Maybe it was a sign from Joe or my grandparents or my late step-mother-in-law or my friend Dugan (because I’d thought of him a lot that day) or any one of the people that have passed. I don’t know and I will never have an answer one way or another. But either way, it made me feel that same subtle twinge I got when I saw my first bald eagle in the wild.
Signs are still problematic for me and I detest forced meaning. But I have a rosary from the mass and I will love that forever.