Last year, as April weather warmed the city back to life and the streets starting buzzing again, my grandfather passed away. He was the patriarch of our small-sized family, a self-made man from the Depression era, and so we all deeply felt the void left by his absence. There are days when I still do.
My grandfather lived for my sister and I, his only grandchildren. He used to take us fishing on hot summer days and even bought me a special left-handed fishing rod. He’d swat away the bees that swarmed my sweet smelling sister. “Don’t worry,” I hear my 7-year-old self saying, “Grandpa will protect us.”
My grandfather was also a brilliant physical engineer who spearheaded the construction of many notable buildings in New York City and elsewhere. In the trying weeks that followed his passing, I toured the city and visited each of his impressive landmarks, trying to find some kind of inner peace and acceptance.
Instead I found a MetroCard. But it wasn’t an ordinary one with a Kraft cheese-colored background. It had an NYC building on it. A building my late grandfather had specifically worked on. Feeling like this was a special memento magically left from my grandpa and desperately wanting something of his to hold on to, I kept the MetroCard safe in my wallet. Or so I thought.
I must’ve gotten careless through my travels in the subway and just days later had lost the treasured piece of laminated plastic. Heartbroken and feeling lost and more distant from my grandfather than ever, I trekked on foot to the very building pictured on the card.
I cried during the entire walk uptown. How could I have been so careless with his artifact? Or worse, would I eventually lose the precious thoughts of my grandpa just as easily as I forgot about the card?
As I walked up to my grandpa’s building entrance and debated going inside, I noticed something on the ground. It was my MetroCard pictured with the building that I was now standing in front of. But even weirder, there was a note stuck to it that read, “We miss you already.”
That was the day I started believing in signs.
Call me crazy. Call me a sad girl whose holding o nto fantasy instead of dealing with reality. I call myself a dreamer, a believer in something bigger than myself who feels the special connection between her soul and her surroundings.
I choose to believe in signs. It’s a way to rationalize the unexplainable. And it allows us to feel as if the people we love are still present, even when they are gone. It might not work for everybody, but it works for me.
Even the small things -- like a perfect song that comes on at the exact moment you need it or a breeze that pushes you in the right direction -- can be interpreted as a cosmic signal. I’m convinced that my microwave flickering (which is very, very rare and only when it’s time to make big decisions, like the time I had to choose between colleges) is a call to action from my spiritual counterparts. An unexpected discount on my morning coffee means, “Have a good day, thinking of you.”
I know this sounds absurd. But it’s comforting to know that there’s someone looking out for you, even if it’s just your imagination running wild. When G-d or Buddha or whatever unearthly being feels too distant to believe in, it’s easier to visualize the people you know in the skies above. And if they are communicating with me via my kitchen appliances, well then, at least they haven’t lost their spark.
I don’t see the signs everyday, or very often, for that matter. That’s how I know they are there and happening. I can feel it. It’s like suddenly being aware of the light. And I remind myself to breathe. Just be mindful of this rare and beautiful moment and breathe. Don’t get upset that they’re gone or else they won’t come back to you.
All you can do is surrender yourself to the electricity. Harness the energy. Remember to breathe. And if only you could hold on to this minute for minutes longer. Keep holding. Breathe out.
And then you’re flooded with gratitude. For the moment and the memories and the wondrous life you’re living now. For the things you have and have experienced. And you breathe again.
You might have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. That’s okay. Your signs are there if you choose to believe them.
Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe I’m conjuring up a fake world because I’ve never quite fit in in this one. Maybe I’m just delaying the inevitable, whatever that seems to be.
But for now, I still have the MetroCard. I use it every day to always remember Grandpa. And I haven’t lost it since.
It’s a sign.
Photo via We Heart It