Loss is hard and Covid has added to the heartbreaking tally. These are the days when we need hope. We need signs.
The day after Christmas marks nine years since I last kissed my incredible dad and told him I love him. Every day since, I have missed him and happy days together, like the Christmas in this photo before he got sick.
If you’re without someone you love deeply, you understand. The missing never fully goes away.
And yet, I feel his presence, too, and have seen the mingling of heaven and earth in signs and circumstances, gifts from God and the great Beyond.
When my father died, I collapsed in a heap on the pullout sofa at my parents’ house and sob-talked to God. I thanked Him for this dad who made me feel special every day and for an end to his suffering. And I pleaded for a sign that he had made it Home okay. Please, just let me know, I begged.
At that exact moment, the chimes outside the window clanged and clanged. It was the only time they made a sound in the 18 days I had been there.
I’ve also dreamed dreams of my dad that are as vivid and real as daylight. In one of them, I was lost in a town I didn’t know. I wandered until I saw a rink like the ones where my pro-hockey father spent most of his life. I was drawn to it, walked inside, and stood alone in a dim hall, wondering where to go, what to do, utterly lost.
And then, my cell phone rang.
“Hi, Trace. It’s dad.” He sounded just like he did when he used to call me. When we talked every day. When he was here.
“Dad. It’s you!” I froze in disbelief. I didn’t even want to breathe for fear of doing something that would end this moment. I wanted to ask him where he was, but I already knew. I began to cry.
“I love you, dad. I wish you were here. I miss you so much.” I felt like I couldn’t take another step without him. Like I couldn’t do this alone.
“Me, too,” he said. “I’m right here.”
And I could feel it. His presence. His love. I could feel him with me. And suddenly, I was okay. I had a deep knowing I would find my way. Lost no more. Even when the dream ended a moment later and I woke up still crying, wanting him back so badly and yet knowing he was with me.
He still is. Right here.
One after the next, signs and dreams continued, blessed reassurances that nothing can completely separate us from one another. Not even death. It doesn't end the missing of his physical presence, wishing I could ask his advice, but it's huge comfort in the midst of it.
If you’re missing someone, too, I want you to know - even if you haven’t had signs and dreams - that your person is close. I know it’s not the same as before. It’s not a hug. It’s not a conversation. It’s not the things we miss, the things we’re used to and long for again. But the ones we miss so deeply are here in the holy kind of Love that never dies. The kind of Love connects us still.
And if you have had these experiences, too, please share them in the comments here. Talk about them. They are encouragement, hope, comfort and peace - things not just intended for ourselves. They are the convergence of the earthly here and the heavenly there. They are a gift that I believe we are meant to share. Balm for others, too.
Love lives on.