I’M NOT HERE…

It was an exhausting week both physically and emotionally, nothing specific, just a lot of extra things going on. What I noticed most was it seemed everyone around me was feeling it too. I’m not sure what it was, but I had some extremely special moments with several people from my life. I decided last Sunday to start some healthy eating and Lucy started training to be an official therapy dog. We are finding purpose together and looking to bring some comfort and hope to others. I’m trying to do something positive every week, like reaching out to someone I haven’t talked to in awhile, doing an act of kindness or just trying to go out of my comfort zone a little. I even went to the vegetarian festival at Byrd Park this weekend with the girls!

I think it all began when I was riding home from work this week and a new song came on the radio by Luke Combs. I listened closely to the words and what I heard was this…

“Just cause I’m leaving/ it don’t mean I won’t be right there by your side/ when you need me and you can’t see me in the middle of the night/ just close your eyes and say a prayer/ it’s ok I know you’re scared/ when I’m not here/ but I’ll always be right there.”

As the tears rolled down both cheeks, a beautiful butterfly flew right in front of my car. Butterflies symbolize a sort of metamorphosis for grievers, as the caterpillar leaves it’s cocoon, emerging as this iridescent ray of Hope and beauty. It shows the changes we go through in grief to find that “new life”, much different than the one we had. The caterpillar is unrecognizable as its former self and many times, so are we.

You see, although my world is different in every way imaginable, there are things happening all around me that makes me feel a closeness. I have had so many unusual things happen that you could say could be coincidence and maybe it is, but in my world it brings me peace.

Right after Lindsey died, fighting to get through the painful days, we all hopped in the car and headed out to Arts in the Park. As we strolled aimlessly toward the festivities, my precious granddaughter, then 2 1/2 years old, saw my tears. She took my hand in hers, fingers intertwined and said ” it’s ok Mimi, she is still with us.” No words had been spoken and a butterfly flew past.

Today, we realized we were walking that same stretch of road and the memory surfaced. We meandered through the crowd, 5 of us, a Great Dane and 2 Doodles. The first booth was someone selling dog scarves, bowls and fun stuff. The scarf I saw first had crabs on it and the woman remarked “I ran out of this last week at the river.” The next booth, minutes later, was Rikki’s Recovery, a “no kill shelter” for all kinds of animals. We looked at each other and we knew by our eyes, we were thinking the same thing.

A short while later, we took a little break, Tiffany waiting at a food truck, the rest of us sitting in the grass enjoying Italian Ice. Amanda went to look at her phone and her internet connection said “Rick’s iPhone”. This happened twice in different locations. There were probably 1000+ people in this park. Coincidence?…maybe, but I think not. There were no tears, merely gentle smiles and recognition that we were all on the same page.

Sydney graduated from 5th grade this year and it was very obvious that we were missing much of our family. We did our best to make it special for her, but as always, everyone’s feelings were right below the surface. As we left the restaurant, the heaviness was palpable, and there sitting next to my car was a Red Wing Shoe van. Rick had ended his work life at Red Wing just weeks before. Coincidence? Could be I guess, but I believe it was something else, letting us know he is still with us.

There have been so many things that I believe were signs from Heaven, letting us know that those we love and miss so desperately are really still right here, in our hearts. There are butterflies and dragonflies and Cardinals everywhere I go. Did I just not notice these things before? My first cruise after Lindsey died, we had reached open water and sitting on my leg was a ladybug, always thought to be a sign of good luck. Weird a ladybug would hitch a ride on a cruise ship.

Another frequent sighting has been license plates and signs. The day after Lindsey’s funeral, Tiffany pulled up in the Ukrop’s parking lot and straight ahead the license plate said Linzi. That is how Lindsey decided to change the spelling of her name in high school. I have friends that find pennies, hundreds of pennies, and those that find multiple rocks shaped like hearts, clouds of hearts and angels and faces. There are more, like tie day and Grateful Dead stickers, number combinations, symbols only they know, the favorite song at just the right time, the chance meeting with someone who is walking a similar path. Chance, coincidence, imagination…maybe, but I know they live within us and beside us and everywhere we turn, paving the way for us as we travel the maze.

Although like the song says “I’m scared” I know they will always be right here.

Our last moments with Rick, involved a Cardinal sitting on the porch posts looking straight into his room. Maybe a visitor from Heaven…you decide.

5 thoughts on “I’M NOT HERE…”

  1. Carolyn What a beautiful post. You and I have had some very insightful chats about things that some might consider “coincidence”. I believe that these indeed are messages that are heaven sent. Our God is “THAT BIG” and loves us that much, to care for hurting hearts and let us know He is with us. This is a beautiful blog. Thank you for sharing. Grace and Peace Pastor Steve

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  2. Dearest Carolyn, as always I read these blogs twice; once quickly to be sure you are doing ok, and second because then I gather the essence of the story. I have learned there are no coincidences when it comes to life and loss. And I am glad you affirmed this in your story this week, because all of those wonderful signs are the things that give us hope and love. Your writing because of Rick and Lindsay, they knew you had so much to share and give to others. Love you

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  3. Jesus is with you. He is salvation and holds you in His arms. Trying to fathom your losses without Him is just the opposite of what He provides. Despair is turned into joy.

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