Messages from the other side
Updated: Jul 5
People say they live in us through our memories. Truthfully they don’t really leave this world, they still exist but in another plane. They learn how to connect with us as their soul evolves through the learning process. We can hear them, sometimes it can be vivid but it’s often subtle. The more open your mind, the more you will see that they truly live on in spirit, only the body is no longer.
Mom’s visit: I was at a conference, attending a session. Sitting in the back of the room, people slowly filing in. The speaker was making small talk with some women in the front of the room. All of a sudden I heard the words pass through in their conversation “Hope chest” They were speaking of the things they put in their hope chests as they moved through life. This past Sunday I had emptied out my mother’s hope chest. With its broken foot that my dad had smashed with his cane, I had planned to throw it out. My rule of thumb is just that anything he smashed I didn’t want to keep.
My mother had received this chest as a little girl. Throughout her life she kept keepsakes and things of her heart’s desire in her hope chest. Some things stored in there were family keepsakes, with important attachments to our moments in life. In this hope chest after they first passed I found my parent’s wedding rings, and jewelry. My father’s necklace for my brother’s neck. My mother’s family diamond ring, which now rests on my finger. Family prayer books dating back centuries with names and dates before English was our language. Some other things were just piles of sweaters, old Italian sweaters once expensive, now crackly dried threads. The hope chest itself was once a beautiful treasure, now withered from the salty air of the years of when it was exposed to the Bahamas intercostal breeze.
I separated out everything in the chest, made piles of keepsakes for me and for my brother, tossed out the old clothes, except of course my beautiful mother’s wedding dress. I had to keep a piece of the day, commemorating the birth of us. The beginning of her white picket fence dream, starting with the day she married my father, becoming a part of his family and building a family of their own and a life. A dysfunctional conglomerate of days filled with love and craziness. Slightly yellowed in spots, I can still see how very beautiful she looked in that dress. A mini dress of white from the 60’s full of lace trimmings and sheer under the breast, her veil with a big white bow.
Never in my life have I ever heard anyone use the term “hope chest” outside of my parents and the home we grew up in. Now here I am, in a conference, working and knowing that my mother is somewhere nearby. She is reminding me that her hope chest is a place for keeping your treasures. Reminding me that I have all these little family treasures all over the house and they need a special place to be kept… in my mom’s hope chest. Reminding me that I have treasures in my life too. Momma I heard you. I had to step out to the ladies room and let a few tears fall, recompose myself and pretend nothing was going on inside. I can feel my mother’s spirit growing. She must be learning how to get my attention, how to let me know she is watching. I hope it’s all she dreamed of.
I sent my brother a short text, telling him that I’m in a conference and someone said “hope chest” and I know mom wants me to have it, so please don’t toss it out. He immediately responded that he would fix the leg for me. He understood my need to hold onto something of hers, and without even saying. He knew without me saying a word that seeing the broken leg reminds me of the dad’s tormenting temper. We lived through it all together, he and I. There is much unspoken understanding between us. I spoke with him finally tonight. Somehow it is comforting to share your grief with someone who is also grieving for the same people. Connecting in our lives seems to soften the blow of their death. I have decided that I will refinish the whole chest and make it lovely and new again. I’m capable of doing it and Mom would really like that.
I think my parents travel with me. They look out for me when I am far from home.
Dad’s visit: On my last trip to a conference, only a month ago I was in Hot Springs Alabama, middle of nowhere. During the conference we had a lunch break and only about an hour to eat and return to the venue. My colleague and I decided to walk a block to the area where three or so restaurants were. We exited the conference hall out the back door and cut across the parking lot.
All of a sudden a breeze kicked up and a long cylinder shaped object started rolling fast towards us. It was noisy against the blacktop. From a distance it looked like a fat white broom handle. We kept walking and it turned toward us rolling fast. There were only three or four cars in the lot, nothing else… and it blazed past these cars headed right for me. I said to John: “What is that?”, “I don’t know,” he said. “Let me go see…” I walked towards it and could not believe my eyes. It was a fluorescent light bulb. My father had owned a lighting company for many years. Suddenly, a light bulb is following me through a parking lot. There is nothing around to indicate where this came from. The bumpy parking lot pavement should have broken it up in these winds.
A wisp of wind wrapped around me, tossing my hair in the air and I knew that my dad was joining me at this conference. He always loved that I did good in sales. He was reminding me of his pride, watching me sell, happy with my professionalism. Reaching out to me from beyond with a light bulb.
I broke into laughter and tears streamed down my face. I felt the pain of loss and amazement of wonder all at once. How on earth was this even possible was beyond the scope of my understanding? I often wondered of late how he was doing on the other side of reality, if he had managed to understand and assimilate into spirit, learn his lessons at last, reflect back on his life... Now I had confirmation that he is learning something. John looked at me like I was crazy, standing in a near empty parking lot laughing and crying. “What?” he asked. “Nothing… really… my dad owned a lighting company and that’s a light bulb. That’s all John.” On we went to lunch, and in the breeze my dad’s voice echoed in my ears “I’m so proud of you baby girl, so proud. I love you.” I choked it back for now and forged into the day ahead.
My parents knew me quite well. They knew I would be watching for signs from them. They knew I would hear them, we spoke of such things many times during their lives. It’s true what they say… that they live in us. Keeping an open mind to hearing their song from the other side allows the connection to happen, the message to come through.