I’ve been thinking about Callie a lot lately. Last night, after Charlotte went down for the night, I sat in a bubble bath and cried until I was a complete prune. I’m not sure what brought it on, but I just had to cry and let it out. I thought about Callie’s short life, her birth, her death, the aftermath. I thought about how unfair it is. I asked God the golden question Why? Why do some people receive more than their fair share? Why us? I rehashed all of those things that I have been at peace with and had found acceptance with. I was having a grief bubble. A wave of sadness popping up in the middle of nowhere. Actually, I was having a grief bubble bath to be more exact.
As I got out of the tub, I heard Charlotte down the hall with John. She had woken up and he was putting her back to sleep. I needed that grief bubble burster right at that moment. To bring me back to the moment, instead of dwelling on the past. A friend of mine wrote John and I a card after Callie passed that always stuck with me. She said in a nutshell that there was nothing more painful than losing her daughter, but if that had not happened, her son would never have come into this world and she could never imagine her life without him. When I ask myself Why??, I always think back to that card. I don’t think having Charlotte was the reason Callie passed away, but I truly cannot imagine my life without her, so I cannot wish away this path that we have traveled down, no matter how painful it is at times.
I’ve seen signs of Callie lately. Maybe she knows that I’ve been missing her. Although I have prepared for it, I still feel like someone punched me in the gut every time a stranger sees Charlotte and asks, “Is she your first?” I have tried every response…yes, no, a non-answer like “She’s our little sweetie pie!”, and even what I thought was bullet-proof, “She’s our oldest!” When I used that one, a lady at church said incredulously, “Well, that means she’s your first!” in the same tone as, “Like, duh!” as if I was a total idiot. I felt rage course through me as I envied a life where someone did not know the pain of losing a baby and how the first does not always mean the oldest. When we went to the garden later, I said a silent prayer to Callie, hoping that she was having fun in heaven and living a full and happy life up there without feeling one ounce of heartache ever. Because heartache sucks. Big time.
But back to the signs of Callie… There are many, but I’ll share my favorites.
First, the owl. If you could hear me reading this aloud, when I come to the words “the owl” I would be saying them in a deep and dark mysterious and dubious voice. Because, the owl freaked me out.
It all started back in the fall, when I was pregnant with Charlotte. One night, I stayed reallllly late at school trying to catch up on some projects I had been falling behind in. As I left the school building, I saw an owl, perched atop a road sign incredibly close to my car. As I drove past, the owl watched me and I rolled down the window to take her picture. At the time, I thought it was SO cool. I mean, I’d never seen an owl up close before. I was thinking of the children’s book Owl Moon and how it would be so neat to tell my students about my encounter. I drove away, my mind already filled with other things and I did not think much more of it.
Until, that is, I pulled into my neighborhood, several miles away from school. There on top of a light post was another owl. I couldn’t see it up close, but I could tell by it’s silhouette that it was most definitely an owl. Was it the same one? It couldn’t be. I thought to myself, That’s weird, and went inside to tell John about it. How odd that I would have two owl sightings in one night! Being a big believer in omens and signs, I broke the great commandment of Charlotte’s pregnancy: Thou shalt not Google. I searched: Symbolism of an owl. I was shocked to see that some cultures viewed owls as a bad omen and as harbingers of death. If you will remember, I was just a teensy bit on edge with anxiety while pregnant with Charlotte (understatement of the year!) so I was freaked out that something bad was going to happen to her and I let my mind go to all kinds of awful places. After much coaxing, John soothed me back into a semi-calm state and I was able to put it (kind of) behind me.
Later that night, as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard hoooo hoooo. Hooo hoooo. An owl hooting from our rooftop.
What the (bleep)?!?!?
John heard it too and I had both of us thoroughly freaked out by this owl. Weeks and months passed. We didn’t hear from the owl again and Charlotte made it safely into our arms so I had kind of forgotten about the owl and its freakiness.
Fastforward to a few weeks ago when I had the brilliant idea that it was time to move Charlotte out of our room and into her own crib. She was getting too big for her bassinet and was sleeping through the night so it felt like she was telling us it was time to let go and move her out. Being slightly on the paranoid side, we went out and bought an AngelCare motion sensor monitoring system to help us sleep a little easier at night. As I shut the door to her nursery that night, I wept…WEPT…and called my friend, Barrett, because I was so emotional about this next step for Charlotte, who by the way could have cared less. She was fine, but I was distraught over her becoming more of a baby and less of a newborn. It was all going so fast!
After a few hours of watching Charlotte sleep on the monitor, analyzing every breath, and two false alarms from the AngelCare that gave us heart attacks…we heard it.
Me: ”Did you hear that???”
John: ”Yes, I did.”
Me (frantically): ”Go get her!!!”
And that is how Charlotte’s first night in her crib went. The next night, we were so exhausted that we put her back in her room and we all had a great night of sleep…owl-free.
Looking back, I think that owl might not have been a bad omen at all…I think it was Callie, trying to reassure me that everything was going to be ok. I mean, owls are nice in Harry Potter, right? So, now me and owls…we’re cool.
As for other signs, yesterday, I absolutely know for a fact that Callie was trying to say hello. It all started when I was talking to Barrett on the phone again in the parking lot outside of John’s school as I waited for him to come out to meet me for lunch. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a HUGE yellow butterfly landed right in front of me on the windshield. It stayed just long enough to flap it’s wings once and then it flitted away. Later on, as I was walking the dogs, I literally had to jump out of the way of another HUGE yellow butterfly that was hellbent on trying to land on me I think. I should’ve let her, but things with wings freak me out when they get too close. Weird phobia of mine. Anyway, later yesterday evening, John and I left the restaurant where we were having a late dinner only to find ANOTHER butterfly on the driver’s side door of our car.
I don’t think any of these things were a coincidence at all. Callie was with us yesterday, as she has been all along.
Have you ever received a sign? I’d really love to hear your story if you have. I’m always looking for the little things that prove our connection with something greater. If you have your heart and mind open, you can find them everywhere.