Signs are everywhere. Only we don’t always see them. For three nights in a row last month, the shortest of five ivory flameless candles lined up on our kitchen counter lit up all by itself and I thought nothing of it. On the fourth night, it occurred to me it could be a sign. From Noah. The day after, it lit up during the day, then the battery died. I put in a new one but the candle didn’t turn itself on again that night or any other night since.
Two weeks later, it was the turn of a red candle, the middle one of a set of three. This time I took a picture before turning it off. It didn’t light up by itself again.
Now, unbeknownst to me, family members had consulted a psychic the week before Christmas. From what I heard later, it had been a poignant experience because so much of what that person said or hinted at about our family was eerily specific and accurate when there was no way she could have had access to that information through “regular” channels (even if she had had a chance to google the various branches of the family tree, including the distantly related and international ones, and she hadn’t).
I must say I was flabbergasted when I heard the details. I have never been to a psychic and it has never even occurred to me to go see one. It would be fair to say that I am more of a skeptic than a believer. Yet I am convinced that there is much we do not know or comprehend about the world and that the essential may well be “invisible to the eyes” in the words of French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. One of the things the psychic said was that Noah was trying to communicate with his family through “something related to feathers” and/or through electrical interferences.
I hadn’t been told yet on Christmas Eve when I spotted the yellow bird on one of the bushes lining our driveway. I hadn’t been told but from the joy and peace that suddenly came over me, I “knew” it was a sign from Noah. The bird’s feathers looked extraordinarily soft and fluffy and its eyes were bright. It let me approach as I took out my phone and started snapping pictures. It only flew off when I came too close for comfort and even then it still lingered in full sight a few minutes longer, eyeing me from its perch on a limb. I had never seen it before and never saw it since.
My daughter sent me these two pictures she took last week at the graffiti park in the college town where her oldest child goes to school. The Spanish words means “the lost son.” The graffiti were next to each other. The thought of this juxtaposition sends chills down my spine. What are the odds that this might be unrelated to the loss of Noah? From what my daughter learned the graffiti are regularly painted over with fresh ones. What are the odds that these two should be up there for a broken-hearted mother to see on her visit?
Just as when we went back home in the month following the murder and the first three letters of the confirmation code on our flight itinerary was NOA… What are the odds of this having been a coincidence?
Yet we can never know, can we? The candles may have been malfunctioning, the bird a migratory visitor on its way to warmer climes, the graffiti totally unrelated to the tragedy that befell our family, the airline code the result of sheer randomness. We may be looking for meaning where there is none.
And believe me, even though hearing from Noah is our dearest wish, it is also immensely sad it should be through such paltry and evanescent means. Only yesterday I was playing TimeLine and SmartyPants with my eight-year old California grandson (he was born six weeks after Noah and his twin sister) and we were having a great time trying to answer quizzes, solve puzzles and put scientific discoveries in chronological order. We went grocery-shopping and I made him lunch and it was just plain ordinary life and it threw into stark relief how pathetic it is that such trivial things as the sight of a bold bird or a rogue candle should bring happiness and peace.
And yet it is better than nothing. The “signs” hint at the possibility that Noah is still out there and still close to us.
If they signify nothing else, they mean our love for him is very much alive. They mean he is missed every minute of every day. They mean we believe his spirit hasn’t died. And if that isn’t a reason to feel happy and at peace despite our sorrow, I wonder what is.