I’ve bounced in between being a believer and a non-believer my whole life. Not in a spiritual sense, but in a superstitious “look at the signs” way.
When I lost my baby in February, everyone had nothing and something to say. One of the least common but most comforting things that I heard was that she would “always be with me” and that I just had to pay attention to the signs. This is hard to do when you only half believe that signs exist, but I tried.
Slowly, as I struggled to cling to anything resembling or reminding me of her and the realness of her growing and dying inside of me, my eyes began to open, and there they were. They became very real to me, there were three of them, and they all came in the form of gifts from a good friend.
Over the course of a couple weeks post-the-day-my-world-stopped, I received three packages. The first came in a box as tall as me and arrived while my sweet friend was visiting, listening to me cry into my sweatshirt that hadn’t been changed in days. We opened it together, and I could tell she was mad. It was a Money Tree Plant, a symbol of good luck and growth. She bought it for me because she had one with beautiful leaves in her own house and she thought it would bring me comfort. She was mad because it arrived dead and wilted. How ironic.
But I had hope. There was one small speck of green on one of its little limbs, and I made a commitment to do everything I could to make it come back to life. And it did. It grew at least six leaves, not big but on their way to getting large. As I continued to water it and care for it and nurse it back to life, I knew she was there, keeping this tree alive to remind me to have hope and that even when it seems like the end, it’s not.
The second gift was less subtle. A set of wind chimes with a serenity prayer printed on each chime. I never considered myself much of a chime-lover: I more frequently found them obnoxious when they were chiming and less frequently wanted to hear them making noise when they weren’t. But that was before I was gifted these chimes.
These chimes became so important to me because they seemed to always be singing when I was near, or even when I was in the house. I heard them on days when not a gust of wind could be felt and I asked myself “how is this happening?”
“Oh… it’s her.”
The first two gifts were touching and beautiful, and so much more meaningful than anything I had ever been given in my life. But the third gift brought me to my knees.
It was a few weeks later after most of the sympathy cards had already come and my home was filled with flowers. I think I thought the gifts were over. And then a small package came in the mail, a jewelry box.
I opened it up and in it was a dainty little bracelet with a purple stone and a gold etched charm with the letter “M.” At first I didn’t understand, I thought my friend intended to send me a bracelet with an “A” for Ariana but the jeweler messed up. But then I saw the card explaining that the stone was a birthstone. My birthstone is not purple. The birthstone was for my baby girl, born two months early in the month of February, and the M was for her name, “Mia.”
I got down on my knees, clutching the bracelet, and I sobbed uncontrollably, breaking only to repeat over and over and over again, “This is so nice.”
And it was so nice, and I cherished it so much every single day…until about a month ago when it broke. It broke in the dumbest of ways: I was reaching in the side of my car to pick up a quarter (how could I risk something so important to me for 25 cents?) and the chain broke. I cried, and cried at the gas station parking lot. Eventually I ordered a new one, an exact replica of the one I have. I wrote a lengthy explanation to the designer about how precious this piece of jewelry was to me, not to get a freebie but to let her know that something she made with her own two hands was changing my life and giving me comfort each day. She didn’t respond, but I did get my new bracelet.
As the weather has gotten cooler, I’ve spent more time on my porch. In fact, I’m writing from it right now. But something’s different… something’s too quiet about it… still. It’s my wind chimes. I can’t even remember the last time I heard them sing to me.
And my Money Tree Plant? The last of it’s leaves is limping on the limb by a thread, just waiting for enough movement in my house to let it fall off. That small speck of green is now gray. The plant was fine, I swear, until a week ago.
At this point, I would consider myself a full-fledged believer, but that’s hard to admit when something I grew to believe so much in has faded away. I had three signs that she was still with me, and now I have none. But I also have less pain about what happened to her, to me.
Getting through each day without her has become easier, and maybe that’s exactly what she wanted. To give me enough signs to get through the roughest time in my life, and then set me free.