Messages from the Beloved Dead

bull_shark_0303.jpgA while back, my best friend, Chad, my ex-boyfriend, Ron, Mom and I sat around my Grandmother’s bed for an hour or so just talking. She’d requested them specifically. We would all have been happy to indulge her in this holding of court, even if she hadn’t been on her death bed.

We laughed as we always had, and talked about everything except her getting better, for we all knew she wasn’t going to. We just had no idea that was it.

Ron, Chad and Mom filed out and I remained to thank her for all she’d done for me, the wisdom, the laughs, reciting insidious limericks on camera, and for spending most of her nest egg on my college education. Her involvement in my life wasn’t something I was ready to part with.

“Let’s agree on something, a word, a sign, a way for you to communicate with me – from there,” I said, “and let’s agree on what it is, so that there’s no mistake and I’m completely certain that’s what it is.”

Not really a deeply spiritual or religious woman, but one who didn’t rule anything out, she didn’t find this to be an outlandish request.

“Okay, what will it be then?” she asked.

“713,” I replied, “Show me a 713 whenever you can, and I’ll take it as a sign that you’re there and communicating.”

She agreed, and with some hugs and kisses, I bid her goodnight, fully expecting to chat some more the next day. But she’d decided that the court she’d held that afternoon was to be her last, and even though she probably had another few days to linger and fade, she was going out cogent and on her own terms.

She was gone the next day – and ever since – the 713s have positively rained down at the most appropriate times: phone numbers, flights, hotel rooms, ticket numbers, bills, license plate numbers, dates, and far too many occurrences to be coincidence. They’ve served as a sort of referendum vote from her. I’ll wind up looking at the clock right at 7:13 – it happens with Mom, and now that happens to Sam as well. I never choose the flight, or the hotel room, or whatever with the number 713. I don’t wait until 7:13 to do stuff… it doesn’t work like that. You don’t force it. They just happen.

If nothing else, seeing 713 makes me think of her, and my Grandfather, and Van, and my Great Grandmothers, and Chad, and all the rest whom I’ve lost. I’d like to think of it as a big conference call, and I thank them all on that call and tell them how much I miss them.

In ten days, Sam and I are going to Bora Bora, and one of the activities is swimming with sharks. I’m so afraid of sharks, I worry about them in freshwater lakes. I thought for a minute that I’d use this opportunity to beat my fear of them, and then I found a very timely March 3rd story in TIME about about shark swims gone wrong. I copied the link and sent it to Sam.

I’ve captured the email, below. Look at the time I sent it – again, not intentionally – to the second.


Okay Gramma, we won’t be swimming with sharks in Bora Bora.

or email me at lovesickbilly@mac.com

5 Responses to “Messages from the Beloved Dead”

  1. 1 Jonathan
    Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    A couple of years ago, I lost an aunt that meant the world to me. She was my second mother, and I was with her until the very end. Amazingly, I feel her presence now almost as much as when she was alive. She sends me so many signs that she is still around. I remember leaving the cemetery in the months after she died, and praying/talking in the car–asking her to guide me in life. My nickname for her in the final years of her life was “Masha”, after a character in an old Nelson Eddie movie that she loved. An unusual name, to be sure. About a minute after my prayer, driving on the expressway, I got cut off by a bright red Mustang, which would not speed up. The personalized license plate read, simply, “Masha.”

    Believe in the signs, Tex. I know that so many people discount stuff like this as coincidence, but how sad that is for them. Sorry for the long comment. I believe in the eternity of love, though, and felt compelled to comment.

  2. 2 Sam
    Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Within a few minutes of my uncle Jeff’s passing, a butterfly (his favorite creature) appeared in front of me, loopily flying upward toward the sky. I hadn’t received word that he was gone yet, but I knew. About an hour later I got the call: “Your uncle Jeff died an hour ago.” I just smiled.

  3. 3 MrsWaltz
    Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    My mom died too suddenly for us to agree on a sign, but I’ve had plenty. When I read Jonathan’s comment, I had to share this one.

    Years before the world wide web, my mom’s company had an internal email system. One of her best friends was also a coworker, and instead of calling her “Betty” he called her “B-dot.” I thought it was hysterical and I called her that sometimes, too. After my mother died suddenly in 2000, I spent most of my lunch hours (okay, fine, so they were more like lunch TWO hours) going to the cemetery. After one lunchtime visit when I had long overstayed my break, I kept thinking to myself that I just wouldn’t go back to the office, I’d just go home. And that’s when the black Mercedes with the personalized tag cut in front of me; it said “B DOT.” And then I watched it go to the next light and turn left. I’d been planning to go straight through the light and go home instead of turning left and returning to work. Mom always did have a kick-ass work ethic.

  4. 4 Conny
    Sunday, March 9, 2008 at 8:09 am

    I am so glad that your grandmother stepped in re: the shark-swimming! Had I known about it, I would have had to change the hands of time to get MY message to you!

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