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  • Becky Adams

10 Signs From Matt

Occasionally, something will happen that I can’t quite explain. Was it a coincidence? Was it a sign from the other side? We have many choices in life. I choose to believe in signs. I hope you will be able to compare some of your own experiences to mine and read the signs in your own life. If you look for them, you will find them. Should you believe? The events are the same regardless of whether you choose to see them as a sign. Your emotions, however, might be significantly different.

1. While decluttering my “library” (AKA the formal living room that nobody uses,) I came across a foam bullet from a Nerf gun that had obviously spent a dozen years under the couch. I tossed it to the cat, and she batted it all over the house for the rest of the weekend. “Hey Matt,” I thought. “Lucy’s having a great time with one of your old Nerf bullets.” Monday, I read an essay from a student who had attended an assembly where I was one of the speakers. She thought my name was “Nicole.” Since Matt wanted to change his name to Nick when he was little, I figured this was a sign.

2. I walked into a different school a couple weeks later—my visitor badge was #16, Matt’s age. My friend got the next badge--#10, his football number.

3. At the same middle school assembly, one of the speakers told a story that he said popped into his head on the drive; it was about a lacrosse game with his brother that he hadn’t thought about in decades. After his speech, he sat down at one of the cafeteria tables and spotted a lacrosse ball in the corner.

4. The speaker’s lacrosse story prompted me to tell a football story that I hadn’t told before. It had happened at a game with the district’s high school, so I told it. At the end of the assembly, the middle school athletic director came up to me and told me that he had been at the game I referenced, and he remembered my son’s touchdown.

5. I told my friend about the lacrosse ball—turns out her son played many lacrosse games at that school. The school is diagonally across the street from where his funeral services were held.

6. On the way to meet my friend, I had debated whether to talk about the lacrosse story. A cardinal flew in front of my car. I decided to tell her.

7. After a long day at work, I still had play rehearsal to attend. I was tired and grumpy as I drove up the highway in the rain, wondering if I was even any good at musicals. I pulled into the theater parking lot as the rain ended. I stepped out of my car to see a dazzling rainbow, with colors so clear and close that you could understand why people look for a pot of gold. I have only seen a rainbow like this one other time in my life: 4 weeks after my son died, on opening night of a play, as I questioned whether I should be in it.

8. I was with two friends, discussing the sons we have lost. One wondered aloud if our boys have met—we didn’t know each other until grief group. As I sat outside two days later, I couldn’t take my eyes off three bright yellow finches, zooming in and out of the branches of a tree, chasing each other, racing up and down.

9. A boy at an assembly asked how to forget the past and focus only on the present and future. Instead of my son, a picture of my grandmother popped into my head, and I felt a rush of emotion as I remembered how she had died when I was 28. I felt her presence very clearly as I told the boy that at the time, I felt like a lousy granddaughter, for not spending enough time with her before she died. Now when I look back, I give some grace to my younger self, a working mother with a baby, living 60 miles from Grandma. I helped my Grandma tell the boy that we don’t need to forget the past, we need to learn from it, and forgive ourselves for mistakes. We are doing the best we can in the moment, with the knowledge and skills that we have; as we grow, we gain more skills. The past helps us recognize a bad situation and our future plans help us change direction.

10. I sat on the couch. Matty, I just miss you so bad. How am I supposed to survive? The dog came over and nudged my leg with his nose: I need to go out, let’s take a walk. We walked up the street and paused in front of a house so Archie could sniff for dog gossip. I looked down and there was a tiny yellow flower: cinquefoil “beloved child.”

My beloved child isn’t here to go for a walk with me, but he’s here in the yellow flowers and the finches and the cardinals. He’s here when the dog nudges me out of my pity party. He’s delighted when I spot the number 10 on a house or a parking space or a theater seat.

We hosted a fundraiser last week and I was in the entryway, wondering where the heck I was going to put my purse for the night. A door swung open. It led to a small back room with a shelf and a chair where I stowed my purse. When my mom arrived, I told her about it.

“Oh, thanks Matt,” she said. “Becky, put my purse in there too.”

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