No need to take out the scrolls and religious reference books: I am not out to preach theology or persuade you in religious thinking. Rather I am here to share what I believe is possible; and why people so desperately believe in and desire contact with others after death. And I am sure it works both ways; longing to see what happened to those left behind after you died, as well as for those who “lost you” wanting to know where you are and how to be “in touch”.
The first thing you should know about those questions is that I have not got a clue to the answers, beyond that they are valid; and I have had my share of contact. Yes, I believe in signs, despite what theologians in my chosen faith of Christianity preach. (And I must acknowledge that among those great minds, there is even great disagreement.) I have to put “personal experience” on top of the “influences me” board.
If you will indulge me I wish to use an excerpt from my blog post entitled, “Mourning Doves and Forever Loves.”
1998. Mother’s health had failed to the point of knowing that her time on earth was coming to an end. Truly, she’d been “dying” for most of my adult years and had many close calls. My years of nursing taught me that there is an innate intelligence in people that lets them know when they are getting close to their passing. Often, the people who are more emotionally bonded to them seem to sense the impending change as well. Perhaps that explains how my sister and I ended up at mom’s at the same time one day. It had become rare for the three of us to be together as our schedules rarely meshed: me at my Wellness Complex business and my sister as a police officer.
On this occasion my sister was doing her usual provocative talking and decided to discuss about ‘when she dies’. She went into elaborate discourse about wanting a Mexican funeral and celebration. She said in Mexico they go to the cemetery and have a big party on the grave and drink and dance. This occurs on November 2, known as the Day of the Dead. In their belief system, there are three deaths when you die.
- First, the moment you cease to breathe, have visual field and the heart stops.
- Second, when the body is placed into the grave and returned to “whence it came”.
- Third and last, is when the thought or memory of living people remembers you for the last time.
On The Day of the Dead, families have a reunion at the cemetery on the grave sites of those who have passed on. They bring baskets of food, bottles of tequila, and sometimes a mariachi band. In the homes there are altars to “lure” the souls back for a visit: incense is burned, foods are abundant and sometimes there is a basin of water and a towel for the soul to freshen up before eating. A pack of cigarettes to relax with after the meal may be left for the departed but expected soul.
The more my sister elaborated, the more my mother tried to act casual about it. Ignoring my sister’s persistent references about her belief in reincarnation was the way mother supported her own belief that reincarnation beliefs were blasphemous. Mother didn’t hold for one moment with the idea of contact after death. The lifelong competition between the two parties, my sister and mother, of trying to “get each other’s goats”, kept mother from showing how truly annoyed she was. I think she was trying to preserve the moment of my sister and I being together, with her, in her bedroom lying together on the bed, and all talking like we used to. It would be something she would not want to end.
The conversation did get to the point of my sister insisting we make ‘the pact’. We were to be sure and contact each other with some significant sign after death. It would have to be something that would identify us: be so particular to us that we would know it was from that person.
We didn’t know for a certainty what, if any, methods were available. We heard people claim their deceased loved ones found ways: through flowers blooming in the winter, special music playing at special times, certain animals and birds appearing, etc. Still, Mother didn’t really commit. She didn’t say anything negative about the plan , thus placating my sister. To Trula, mother’s silence indicated compliance with the plan.
The test of the pact would come sooner than we realized. Within that month, at the end of an exceptionally good weekend trip, mother returned home and had a major stroke. While plans were being made to bring her home from the hospital to all kinds of special home care, hospital bed, etc., she must have reasoned with God that she just wasn’t the kind to do that. She had not remained independent all the recent years recovering from some really close calls to end up an invalid. God took her home and arrangements were made to ‘let her go’.
As in my childhood, the Mourning Doves were well known to us, and loved by our mother. When she wanted to call us home she would cup her hands and initiate the “cooah cooah” sound of the Mourning Dove as a whistle and whistling sound. We could hear it blocks away and know to run home; it was urgent or an order and not to be ignored. I tried to teach it to my grandchildren, then gave up.
In the days following her death, there were out of character appearances of lone “Mourning Doves”: at the funeral home in Iowa, (“cooah cooahing ” at 9:30 at night on an evergreen branch by my sister’s car–she could have touched it as it did not fly away even when she started her car) and including appearances at my house on the window sill by Mother’s favorite place to sit. She loved that they would fly to the window sill up off the ground where they feed, and begin pecking at our window. In my dad’s parking lot in Illinois, as we left for her burial in Oklahoma, they were walking in circles around his car. At the graveside services in Morris, Oklahoma cemetery one sat up in an evergreen tree as though watching over the proceedings. In Iowa at the mutual friends home where we stayed the night on the way home after the funeral (a very funny encounter) and including many other ‘sightings’ through the year at strategic times, and events, and in ways that were uncharacteristic for the Mourning Doves.(See the Blog Post “Mourning Doves and Forever Loves on this WordPress site”.) FOR THE STORY OF THE PAINTING SEEN ABOVE AND HOW IT WAS A “SIGN” READ THE “MOURNING DOVE” POST. Part of the significance of the lone Mourning Dove is they travel in pairs, and mate for life; thus are normally together as a pair when sighted.
Sure, we can read things into and out of anything. As I have had more encounters over the years, heard more “bird” stories, had “signals/signs” from my sister since her passing, (see the blog post Signs on this site.) I have come more to the point of believing you call it as you see it. Religious discussions aside, I am sure that if these are points of contact from beyond the grave, they are loving gestures to remind us that it is because we are loved and they want us to know they await our coming.
I for one would never profess to know how God set this world up for us to leave or the exact structure of the operation of the world that waits for us, although I have read my Bible through more than once and sat under many great preachers and teachers of the Word. But I would never presume to know the exact mind of God. I do know any contacts would be done in a loving and thoughtful manner with our welfare and good intent in mind and only if allowed by Him..
When I have had a special moment with a Mourning Dove, I choose to believe it is because it is a ‘sign’ of my Mother’s forever love, and the bird is not my mother. It is also a legacy I hope to experience with more family members when I go.
Which brings me to you, “my reader”. When I am gone, I hope that there will be signs in this world I was here: my books, my articles, and my letters, and posts. I can attest to the fact that should be easily done: I have over one million words in print at this time.
The signs I would hope to leave you are these:
- I hope when you see Greyhounds, you think of me (and adopt one);
- When you hear a laugh too loud or inappropriate near you, that you remember my uncontrolled laughter, and my always too loud voice (even long before my loss of hearing was a factor).
- When the OU Sooners or Oklahoma State Cowboys go to the Rose Bowl, and The Color Purple is available to you as a book, play or movie, you will remember how I loved them.
- When you reach down to help someone up literally, or in a way that lives up to that image, remember my love for victim/survivors and you give me a little “God Wink Credit” knowing how I would love to have been with you.
- If you hear “Oklahoma” playing or “I’m Just a Girl Who Cain’t Say NO”, I am humming along with you.
- If you feel intolerant toward someone who looks different, believes different, or “smells” different, love them for me and know I am smiling,
- AND I AM “WATCHING OVER YOU.”