family, mom

Hearts of Love

Have you ever had a moment where something caught your eye because it was a bit out-of-place, but instantly reminded you of someone you loved? Maybe a bright red cardinal appeared on your back porch railing, out-of-season, and remained in that spot for a long stretch of time, shortly after a parent passed away. Perhaps it was the time you walked around the neighborhood, thinking about a treasured friend, when suddenly the sparkle of a bright copper penny caught your eye. These little moments in our day-to-day lives may be nothing more than coincidences, but I believe they are something bigger.

I believe they are signs that we are loved.

When I was thirteen years old, my great-grandmother passed away. I remember being at my Grandma Payne’s house after the funeral, when the lamp she had on the side table started to flicker. The movement stopped her mid-sentence as she stared at the light. I thought something might be wrong with the lightbulb and suggested we get a new one, but Grandma shook her head. “There’s nothing wrong with that lightbulb or the lamp. That’s just Mama saying hello.”

Now, I know some of you reading this post might stop and shake your head, deciding that my Grandma Payne was a bit “off her rocker” as they say. I can assure you that my Grandma was a woman of steadfast faith and logical thinking. But she also strongly believed that there were things in this world we can’t quite explain, and signs like this confirmed it.

We joked that Great-Grandma Chick was a ball of electrical energy as we started to see lights flickering in other unexpected places. It almost felt like a game – where would we see the next light flicker appear? Each instance made me smile and I would get a warm, happy feeling inside, like I never was really alone.

I would continue to have odd coincidences occur. Once, I was walking along the trail that connected our middle school to our high school, worried about having enough money to purchase lunch later in the week. Right in that moment, I happened to look down at my feet and there was a ten dollar bill wedged in the blades of grass.

Problem solved.

When Grandma Payne passed away, my heart shattered into a million pieces. She was my person. My best friend. My confidant. I was living states away and the weight of that loss was unbearable. Even thought I knew the Stage 4 cancer was going to claim her life, (after all, I had just flown home and spent the past two weeks caring for her with my Dad and cousin, Wendy) I was still in shock when the news came that she was gone.

That’s when I started to see the number eleven.

See, my Grandma died on November 11 (11/11) and 1111 was the number of her street address. When working through the details of her final arrangements, I told my cousin, Wendy, that I would send her a check to share in the cost of the flowers. I pulled out my checkbook and lo and behold, the check number was 1111.

The next day, when I rode up the airport escalator to catch a flight home, the digital clock at the top of the second floor displayed 1111. Then, during her funeral, when I was invited to the podium to share my thoughts, my watch confirmed the time I already knew – 11:11.

Now, more than two decades later, anytime I see the number 11 or 1111, I think of my Grandma and smile. They are little reminders that I am loved.

When Rich’s mom passed in 2016, I saw cardinals and butterflies. When my mom passed away in 2017, I saw frogs and hearts. I even wrote about a few of the signs I saw on my mom’s birthday in 2020. My dear friend, Lori, whose dad passed away two weeks after my mom, shared a book with me titled, When God Winks At You, by SQuire Rushnell. (Yes, his first name is spelled correctly.) This collection of stories from people all around the world provided great comfort as I read about others’ experiences with things they couldn’t explain.

I’ve been capturing these moments through photographs for a few years now, but was hesitant to share with everyone. As you know, the world can be so judgmental and harsh at times and these moments were quite personal to me. But as time passed on, I wanted to share the joy I felt when these hearts appeared. I created a Facebook album titled, “Hearts of Love,” where I could easily post pictures of my experiences. I added the hashtag #HiMom as a virtual nod of acknowledgment. Since that time I’ve even had friends tagging me in their hearts of love photos, too!

Here’s a heart that I saw just yesterday. I was making a little snack of cheese, crackers, and fruit. As I placed the cheese square on the cracker, there it was: a tiny, unmistakeable heart. Can you see it at the corner of my cheese square?

A heart in my cracker

Each time a heart appears in an unexpected place, I think of a loved one and smile.

I am loved.

You are, too.

Sometimes we just need a little reminder from above.


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