After loss of anything, or anyone, I have found myself in constant search of signs. Signs that although a human body is gone, their soul is not. That somehow their love, our love, is greater than just what the eye can observe and see. I have searched constantly, with great earnest, to prove to myself our love was so deeply connected, that it will live on for forever.
Many of those signs have been through our son. A son, who is beyond any mere word on a page that I could type: extraordinary, incomprehensible, something that is beyond what this world has to offer for an explanation of how or why in possibility.
His son was 14 months old when he took his last breath. The hardest part of this grief journey has simply been experiencing it, trying to explain on a moral compass, yet one with love and compassion, to an infant growing up with such child-like innocence. He understands Daddy is “up” in heaven; he often associates airplanes, helicopters, even the sunset that Daddy painted as his Daddy’s doings. I simply believe in my heart this pure innocence is something we all need more of in our life. I do not correct him; this evil world will taint him enough as the years grow on.
Despite these common misconceptions of his little mind, what I cannot explain are “moments.” Moments that no one else would know, no one else typically see, just moments. For example, when I was in another room and he was in the living room less than one month after his Daddy passed, I heard him giggling his deep belly, baby laugh and could not stop. As I peek around the corner, he is watching in earnest at something, someone; but I could not see anything. His face was clear that he was excitedly anticipating someone to do something, and then the hysterical laughter ensues at whatever he just witnessed. The interaction continued on and and on and on. I stood in astonishment, tears billowing down my cheeks, and then later clenched in a ball on my knees, begging God to let me see him too.
These stories could go on forever. I have witnessed so many, I have lost count. However, I have tried to write them down as savory memories of their love and bond that is deeper than any bond I have ever witnessed.
But just when I think life is the hardest, at the holidays nonetheless, I find myself unknowingly needing to sense Joe; needing to know he is near. My son and I were eating dinner, talking about the day. His Daddy hadn’t been mentioned yet that night, but with a mouth full of food, he adamantly states: “Daddy told me he is getting me a school bus for Christmas.”
Shocked, I stopped mid-bite, and choke out, “Oh really?”
He nods his head in confidence, and repeats in his little munchkin voice, “He said it mommy, he told me, he is bringing me a school bus for Christmas.”
I know I am the lifeline between them, and I was not about to let that little boy be disappointed without a simple little school bus. Christmas Eve morning rolled around, and I had a mission: I needed a school bus. The local Wal-Mart did not have anything, not a small school bus, a picture of a school bus, or a coloring book of a school bus. Nothing! I walked every toy aisle twice, and found nothing.
TJ Maxx proved the same results.
Target was next. I even broadened my search to the school supplies, home decor aisles, and every toy aisle. The answer was the same: There was not a school bus anywhere!
I text a friend, and called another friend feeling the mounting pressure on my chest of a full-blown anxiety attack. I hadn’t had one in a long time, but I knew it was coming. I knew I needed a school bus. Friends said they would go out and look, not to worry we would find one. After tears over the phone call in the jewelry department I headed to the checkout line.
I didn’t think twice about which line to choose, I just jumped in the one that seemed the closest, and hung up the phone with my saving grace. And then-that’s when it happened. Target’s last attempt to catch my eye, intertwined with God’s grace and Joe’s deep connection to both Porter and I, was right there. Behind Target’s last attempt to get me to buy something, someone had ditched a small yellow school bus, right behind the boxes of treats–RIGHT IN THE LINE I WAS STANDING IN.
I really don’t have words. I have attempted to process it for three days now: how adamant Porter was that his Daddy told him he was bringing a school bus to him; that I searched every aisle, multiple times, in multiple stores to find anything of a bus; and there is a bus, the only bus in three stores, deserted in the aisle I chose to check out in.
Those are my signs. They are around us every day. I am guilty that I fall into the trap of being so busy I miss some of them. They are there. And that is how I know souls and love never die when human bodies do- they are so deeply connected that they are there in our greatest times of need.
Even if it is just a small, yellow school bus abandoned on a Target check-out shelf.