Some signs are neither seen or read, but felt.
In 2002 as I was leaving my grandfather’s hospital room, something inside me screamed, “Go back! Tell him all that you need to say.” I stopped mid-step, turned around, and sprinted down the hall back towards his room.
I grabbed and hugged him. We bawled as I said he was the man of my life and he said, “I love you, Ginny Mae.” We both knew that this moment was our final goodbye, our last talk with words.
But that old man found ways to communicate to me without words, to show me love from beyond without a sound.
He passed away at 3:10 on a Tuesday afternoon as I was driving home from work, and I knew the minute he passed. I don’t know how I knew, but I felt his presence, my arm hairs stood up, and Knocking on Heaven’s Door played on the radio.
Somehow I just knew it. I could feel it. He was with me in spirit.
I was driving on that very road some number of months later when I thought, “Oh yeah, give me a sign.”
The very next sign that I saw was a sign with bright red block letters that spelled the word “SIGN”. I literally laughed out loud and thought, “Ok. He heard that!”
A couple of years later, my grandpa visited me in a dream. It was a dream that was so vibrant, so colorful, so seemingly real: I was walking in a random parking lot when he appeared to me in the reflection of a car’s side mirror, was dressed in a bright white suit, his bald-head gleamed, and his glasses sparkled with gold.
He stepped out and was holding a baby. At the time I was pregnant with my second child, a boy, and assumed that the baby my grandfather was holding was my soon-to-be-born son. I did not hear the words, but received the message that my grandpa was “right there” with me.
Fast forward ten years from the time my Paw-Paw passed to 2012, the year my fourth child was born.
He was a sweet, handsome little lad with a bald, round head, like my grandpa’s,. He literally graced our lives with his presence. That boy could say “I love you” without any words. His blue eyes spoke so deeply to me and it seemed as though he always knew more than he could share verbally. My mom even said that Cullin knew all of the secrets of the world. I wonder if he knew he would leave.
It was 10:36 on a Monday morning when my son, Cullin, passed away from SIDS at six months old and left this world behind. Just three hours earlier his brother, sisters, and I gathered around him, enamored with his cuteness and quiet wisdom. We lingered longer than normal.
I dropped him off at the sitter and lingered some more. Cullin and I made eye contact and he flashed me a smile that I will remember for the rest of my life. At that moment I didn’t care that I was late for work, I knew that the moment was more important.
I don’t know how I knew, but I knew. I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see my boy alive but have since wondered if Cullin knew that those lingering moments would be our final goodbye, our last talk without words.
But my baby found ways to communicate to me without words, to show me love from beyond without a sound.
As his dad and I carried Cullin’s casket to his grave, lowered him into the ground, and placed our son next to my grandpa, it hit me. The little baby boy in the dream a decade earlier was Cullin.
My grandpa was with Cullin then, and Cullin was with him now. And like his great grandfather before him, he visited me in a dream: I was sitting along the beach where the waves crash upon the shore and Cullin rolled over my head, into my lap, and faced me. For what seemed like hours, we played in the ocean and spoke without words.
We shared a moment without sound, yet the love resounded. As I looked into his eyes, I could feel him say “I love you Mama.”
That moment when you wake from a dream about your child only to discover that the nightmare remains.
The very next morning I was on my way to school, lost in thought about the visit dream, and at that very moment was startled to hear, “Call now to get your dream interpreted by Damian the dream interpreter.” I was even more surprised when the radio station answered my call.
After I shared my dream, and thirty seconds of silence followed, the d.j. cleared her throat and handed the mic to Damian who confirmed that it was a visit dream.
It was a sign. My sign. His sign. A sign that can not be read or seen, but felt. Though I long to hear my son shout, “I love you Mama”, scream, “I need you”, or yell, “I’m here”, I treasure the whispers of love, the signs, the winks that are left along the way for me.
I mostly receive heart signs but when my son sends special trinkets, speaks to me without words, or when he is with me in spirit, I know it.
I feel it.
Ginny Limer is a mother of five, teacher, and adventurer from Fort Worth, Texas. She founded Scared Sidless, a 501(c)3 nonprofit in order to support bereaved families, unite grieving siblings, and promote a lifestyle of creative, healthy grieving. Just as you exhale grief, Ginny encourages you to inhale hope.