Everything’s a Sign If You Want It to Be
We can search for meaning but that doesn’t make it real.
A red balloon. A song on the radio. A billboard. A feather. A heart shaped stone. Following a friend’s recent death, almost everyone I know felt her presence marked by these small, commonplace items. They had relevance. These tokens spoke to them. They were signs she was still here regardless of how heavy we felt her departure from us.
I saw nothing.
I looked everywhere and then I looked harder. I felt like there was something wrong with me. It was almost upsetting. Why didn’t I see anything? Was I somehow not worthy?
Two weeks after she passed, I connected with a man. In him I thought I finally saw what everyone else had. A sign from her. In the back of my mind, it made me feel special. Now, I had something of her to cling to: him. I did what anyone searching for meaning would do.
I attached myself to the idea that this man was brought into my life by her. He wasn’t. There was no sign, just a desire to believe in something greater than me. Just a grief stricken moment of desperation.
Nothing came of this. I didn’t necessarily want this man. I wanted the idea of him. When he faded off, disconnecting from him was difficult simply because I had to give up the idea of and the belief in the sign.
Instead of signs, what we see are gentle reminders of our need for introspection. We feel the tilt toward one side of a decision over another because we need that. We are alone in a moment of solitude or need and want someone else to be there with us. So, we search for that person until we find them.
My grandmother called me her little schmetterling. It’s German for butterfly. My grandfather was born in Germany and my name means butterfly. She was the first person in my life I ever lost.
Her passing is a major event in my mother’s life. It was 40 years ago but I know she still feels it deeply and often. When she needs hope or sanctuary or guidance, she speaks to my grandmother, usually in the presence of butterflies.
There have been times in every member of my family’s life that we have struggled with something only to have a butterfly float in, land near us and sit. We always say it’s her.
It’s not her. I know that. She’s not trying to tell us something. That butterfly, though, is a reminder. That butterfly stops us and forces us to focus and contemplate.
We want to believe that those that have left us visit us from the spirit world. We can believe in anything if we want to. We see what we want to see. We can rationalize the good and the bad.
I would venture to say that every single sign one of my friends saw I have come across as well. I just didn’t notice it. We only notice when we need to. How many times in my life have I seen a butterfly float by and not thought of my grandmother? It must be nearly countless. Still, only when I need it to be her do I see it.
Searching for signs brings us the peace we need to move through whatever we’re facing in a way that has meaning.
In searching for a sign from my friend, I’ve been searching for connection with her. It’s gone and what I really want is reassurance that it existed.
We see her everywhere not because she’s speaking to us but because she is and was everywhere. That’s the beauty of giving someone that kind of space in our lives.
I don’t need the signs anymore. I think of her every day but what I see or hear is nothing more than a memory floating up in front of me, like that red balloon, just to linger long enough for me to a feel her in my life for a split second. I don’t take a message from it. I take the warmth. The gentle presence of her in my heart.