Dear Amy (Signs)

Someone sent me an article yesterday about a book called “Life After Death: The Evidence.”  When I opened the link and started reading, I just couldn’t finish it.  You see the author of the article was a major skeptic and was writing about how they think the afterlife is bullshit.  Since I stopped reading, I don’t even know what their arguments were.  It pissed me off because I am over here being BOMBARDED with signs from you.  There are WAY TOO many for it to be coincidental.  It’s getting to the point now that I have to write them down to remember and I am starting to forget many that I have already received.  I thought I’d list them all here, so you know I’m aware.

1.  When I thought you were just in a coma I kept asking you what you were going to do.  The answer I got was that you had done all that you wanted to do and you were leaving.  I didn’t want that to be true, but Mark asked me what my gut said and I told him I knew you were gone.  I prayed that my cell phone wouldn’t ring because I knew what that would mean.

2.  All day as I traveled to NC I asked you to give me a sign and I kept thinking if you’d send me anything, it would be a frog.  When I came out of the restroom at a rest stop, there at my feet was a frog.  I sat down, picked it up, and called Kristin.

3.  I have also asked you twice to help me out with decision making and when I started to make the wrong decision I got a terrible tummy ache.  When I put myself back on track, in the right direction, I felt better.

4.  When Kristin and I were sitting on her porch Monday night she said “I just want to call Amy.”  When she said that the wind began blowing and the wind chimes went crazy.  I got chills all over and sat staring at the empty chair at the table.  Somehow I felt or knew you were sitting in it, right across the table from Kristin.

5.  I got chills and goosebumps every time I talked about you and every time I hugged your mom.  At one point she said “Leslee!”  and I replied “It’s Amy.”  She called me last night and the second I heard her voice the goosebumps came back.  (I haven’t felt them much since I’ve been back in Florida.  It actually scared me because I was afraid I was too far away to feel you.)

6.  After the funeral at your mom and dad’s house I was sitting on the couch with your mom talking to the neighbor.  He was talking about his wife and said “What am I?  Chopped liver?”  I had been thinking of you saying that to my dad for days.  It was one of those funny moments that always stood out to me.

7.  I let you pick out my outfit for the funeral and when Candie saw me she said “Look we’re all wearing green.”  It was your favorite color and not a bit surprising that you dressed us all.  I kept the heels on for 2 hours but then had to change.

8.  I listened to Incubus all the way home and felt like you were speaking to me through the lyrics.  “I wish you were here.”  “She called out a warning, don’t ever let life pass you by.” “Goodbye, nice to know you.” and one that I can’t quite remember but is something like “Something inside me has told me more than twice today that you are the air I breathe.”  Also found out that the end of that CD is a 30 second chorus of crickets and FROGS.

9.  I’ve seen a lot more frogs.  A little girl gave a toy frog to the girls in a restaurant.  I was holding one of Kelly’s twin babies and noticed she was wearing a froggie outfit.  I saw 3 frogs on Halloween night as I wondered around lost.  Yesterday there were 21 little frogs in the sliding board at my friends house and Bella was trying to catch them with her friend.

10.  Most recently today I was at the grocery store waiting for my sushi to be made and I walked over to the florist area (of course as always thinking Amy send me a message) and there was a teddy bear holding a pillow with a butterfly on it that said Best Friends Always.  Then I started listening to the music on the speakers and this song came on….

I know this isn’t all of them, like I said I’m losing track.  You were the one who helped me remember…what am I going to do without you to call?  Which reminds me, when your mom called me last night she asked me to come home just like you kept doing.  Get to work Angel Amy!  I love you so much and still missing you.  Wondering if I will ever stop thinking about you…

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Dear Amy (funeral)

Where to start, where to start…  Well, your funeral was last Wednesday and I must say it was beautiful.  I didn’t count them, but I’d guess there was about 20 police cars leading the funeral procession from the funeral home to the church.  They had every intersection between Raymer’s and Hopewell blocked and one whole side of the church was filled with men and women in blue.  You loved the attention you got from being married to law enforcement and, boy, they made sure you got it in the end.

I walked into the church with Chris and Jen.  Heather had gone to look for the minister about the eulogy.  I sat down and looked at the rows marked for family and I knew I was supposed to be there.  I wasn’t sure whether or not to get up but finally after they brought the coffin in, I knew I was in the wrong place.  I walked out and found my rightful place, with your family.  I sat beside Kristin and your little grandma.  She (grandma) was so cute, singing along to the songs and saying “yes, yes” to everything the ministers said.  When the vocalists sang “In The Garden,” inside my head I replaced He with She.

And She walks with me,
and She talks with me,
and She tells me I am her own;
and the joy we share as we tarry there,
none other has ever known.

My guess is some might call that blasphemy, but you are a daughter of God and I know that you are now watching over me just like Jesus.  And speaking of Jesus, everything Jervis said at the service was PERFECT.  (Ok, not everything, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)  You and I had talked about Jesus on the 13th.  I had told you my thoughts and that most of all for me Jesus is a teacher.  In my life I am trying to learn from him and follow what he taught…two of those huge lessons being forgiveness and everlasting life.  The one thing Jervis said (and used scripture to back it up) was “she will live again.”  The other thing he said is that God does not punish us and God does not cause tragedies like this to happen.  You leaving us just is…  There is no one to blame and all we can do now is go to God for comfort.  He didn’t make this happen, but he can get us through it.

Now the one thing that made me cringe a bit, OK A LOT, was when Jervis talked about Puni.  In my mind I was screaming “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and tackling him before he could say it.  But I really didn’t think you’d want me actually doing that at your funeral, so I let him speak.  For those of us closest to you, Puni (along with your other little quirks) were such big pieces of you.  And those of us who knew felt so special to be in the midst of that circle.  You only told the people you loved the most and Tim loved you so much that he had to tell Jervis the story of Puni.  I had no idea it would end up being said aloud to the hundreds of people that were there.  Kristin and I expressed to one another that we could feel your embarrassment, but it also just occurred to me now that we were probably both a little jealous.  I mean that was a part of you that belonged to a select few and we were among that few.  Maybe we wanted to keep Puni all to ourselves, so that we would know something and have something so many others didn’t.

You keep sending all these signs, it’s crazy how many we are getting.  I know you always hated country music and nearly everyone else in your life liked it.  This past week everyone has been passing along songs to each other and they are all COUNTRY songs.  We keep apologizing to you for using country songs (which you hated) to remember you by.  But I think you are sending us these songs on purpose because you knew that WE would like them and hear them and think of you.  So in honor of that I just found a version of “In The Garden” by Brad Paisley that I wanted to share.

Dear Amy (1)

I am writing this at 9:15 on Sunday morning.  A week ago at this time I had a normal life.  In fact, I had a great life.  The last post I’d written before going to Disney was all about walking to get coffee and imagining all these wonderful things happening in my life.  But on this trip I didn’t picture the book signings or see myself meeting Oprah, instead I just said thank you over and over.  We stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  That place is AMAZING.  I couldn’t believe I was there.  I thought about all the stuff I’ve worried about over my lifetime and how insignificant almost all of it is.  I told myself that I was going to stop asking for anything and just let my life unfold before me.

I think I got the call a little after 9:30.  The girls and I were posing for a picture inside the lobby.  Because of our stupid camera’s delay, Mark snapped a picture of me the moment when Kristin was telling me.  He wanted to delete the picture but I told him no.  Maybe one day I’ll agree, but that picture illustrates the moment my life changed forever. YOU were and are my best friend and my sister (although to clarify for readers, not my biological sister).  You held a spot at the top of the list of people I loved the most and people who were the most important to me.

Thank God for Facebook, for everything that Facebook has brought into my life.  It has healed a few relationships, yours and mine being the most important one.  It’s not that our relationship was suffering, but we just hadn’t nurtured it very well over the years.  Because of Facebook you and I talked every night.  I came to you with some things I may not have in the past.  You gave me guidance.  You let me know you loved me.  I know that you are still giving me guidance and I AM listening.

I’m so glad we went to Savannah together.  That was a wonderful weekend, one of the best I’ve had in years and years.  I can see you in my head sitting back on the bed listening to me as I talked.  We put so much out there that weekend.  We laughed, cried, and placed our regrets right out on the table.  I can’t believe I missed so much over the years.  I did run away in a sense.  I’m not running anymore, but I ran for a lot of years.  I know it used to hurt you when you’d ask if I was ever going to come back home and I would respond with a resounding NO.  Thank God for small miracles and that I was able to say two things to you that I know were music to your ears.  The first was my promise to never miss anything again and I haven’t so far.  I made it to the shower and I was driven that day by some force that made me work so hard.  I know you were proud of me, cause it’s no secret how lazy I usually am when it comes to that kind of work.  And of course I didn’t miss your funeral.  I just can’t believe that THAT is the trip that followed the trip home for your baby shower.  I couldn’t see the babies when I was there, but I plan to go back on winter break and meet them.  The second thing I said that I know thrilled you, was that YES I would love to go back home and be close to you and all of our friends.  I don’t know where life will take me, but I do wish that I could be close to your boys and be able to offer my help and support to Tim.

Alright, I’m inching up on my 700 word limit so I’m going to wrap this up.  I want to write to you about the funeral and I want to write about your precious husband and amazing family…but I will do that in the next few days.  This entire week will probably be letters to you!

My friend, Rob, reminded me of this song at church this morning.  I know you liked it…can’t imagine why. 🙂

Funeral Songs

The last funeral I attended was in January 2008.  It was for one of my sorority sisters, who died too soon, and left behind a husband and two beautiful young children.  She had a long battle with cancer, and it seems she took the time to think of the right song for her funeral.  The song she chose was “Soak Up The Sun” by Sheryl Crow.  “Soak Up The Sun” is another one of those songs that I had heard over and over, but never allowed the message to register until I was sitting in that chapel.  We were all there to pay our respects, say goodbyes, remember the good times, and mourn with others whose lives were touched by hers.  I’m not sure, though, if anyone expected that we would leave her funeral with such a special gift.  By choosing that song she gave us a message to walk away with, that if taken to heart, could make all of our lives a little easier to live.

The song I want played at my funeral isn’t something I’ve put a lot of thought into.  I suppose it should be something that represents me somehow, but more importantly it should lift people up when they hear it.  These days whenever I hear “Soak Up The Sun” I get a little rush of energy.  I imagine Suzy’s beautiful smile and know she’s close by reminding me to cherish this life, but not to take it too seriously.  Her life was a gift to so many and she found a way to leave us with just one more.

“I’m gonna soak up the sun, gonna tell everyone to lighten up

I’ve got no one to blame, for every time I feel lame I’m looking up”