78: Mom Found a Way

78: Mom Found a Way

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

Mom Found a Way

A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.

~Author Unknown

I was one of the first to arrive at the cemetery on the day of my mother’s funeral. I wanted to make sure the director had placed the memorial wreaths and flowers just so, that enough folding chairs had been set up beside the gravesite for those who needed them, that the stand on which the guest book and pen were to be placed was easily accessible, and that the framed collage of photographs that traced my mother’s eighty-nine years of life had been given a place of prominence.

I wasn’t disappointed; the funeral home had done a wonderful job. Even nature had cooperated by giving us a brilliant sky and mild temperatures, despite it being early February. My only dismay came when I noticed a smattering of white feathers scattered across the lawn beside the gravesite.

“Ugh,” I groaned. With no time to spare and no practical way to clear the messy space before the others arrived, I could only hope that the mild breeze would eventually clear them away.

Yet, as I steeled myself to face the next few difficult hours, the strange presence of those white feathers also gave my grieving heart a sense of comfort. So, I picked up a nice one and placed it in the pocket of my skirt. I thought I would save it to press alongside a yellow tea rose from one of the wreaths — a remembrance of this day.

During her last weeks of suffering ill health, when both of us knew she had precious little time left, I would often ask her, “What in the world am I going to do without you, Mom?” My mother was the wisest, most loving, nurturing person I’d ever known. I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. “You’re my best friend,” I told her, my heart breaking.

“Look,” she said, in that practical, knowing tone of hers that never failed to steady me. “I will always be near. Always. If after I’m gone there is a way, any way possible, I promise I’ll let you know I’m around and watching over you.” Then she would flick a hand and change the subject, as if to put the matter to rest.

Several weeks later, white feathers began to show up in the oddest places, such as the carpet in my office or the corner of my closet. At first I didn’t make the connection. I was too preoccupied, too busy missing my mother. But one day in early spring, thinking exercise would help cheer me up, I took a morning walk despite the snow on the ground. With each step, I thought about how much I missed my mother. I murmured a silent prayer. “Lord, please tell Mom hello for me, and because You know my heart so well, tell her how much I miss her.”

Then, for some reason, I looked down. There, on top of the snow, lay a flawless white feather.

“Oh!” I said, startled. And all of a sudden, I knew. I understood. A rush of emotion rippled through me, and my mind flew back to the day of the funeral when I’d discovered all those white feathers at the gravesite, those many times afterward when I’d found tiny white feathers in all those impossible places. And I remembered my mother’s words as she assured me she would always be with me, and that if there were any way possible, she would let me know it.

I turned the feather in my hand, marveling at it through a blur of tears. God had heard the cry of my heart and had answered in a way that I couldn’t possibly misunderstand — through that lovely white feather. With God’s blessing, my mother was saying hello right back.

Since then, white feathers have made many appearances during significant times — those times when having my mom by my side would have meant the world to me. Once last summer on a trip to France, I visited a small art gallery in Avignon. The woman who owned it had dedicated the gallery to her deceased artist father, and she’d filled the rooms of her ancient renovated stone house with his many drawings and paintings. Because I, too, grew up with an artist father, the woman’s heartfelt devotion to the gallery had made me especially sentimental toward my own deceased parents. How wonderful it would have been if they’d been there to share this lovely place with me.

Stepping out into the sunlight to wait for the others in my tour group to assemble, I looked toward a flowerbed where lavender bloomed. There, in the black soil beside those fragrant fronds, where I couldn’t miss it, fluttered a delicate white feather. My mother and the Lord had done it again.

Over the months that followed, I found white feathers everywhere. For instance, I found one miraculously stuck to a vertical kitchen cupboard on Thanksgiving Day while I was preparing the turkey for our first holiday dinner without my mother. One day while thinking about my mom, out of nowhere a white feather floated past as I vacuumed my living room. And once I found a slender white seagull feather while walking into the post office where I planned to mail a birthday card to one of my mother’s good friends.

Who can explain such things? I can only marvel at these little white gifts. I have so many now that I keep them tucked safely away in a decorated rosewood box. And each time I add another white feather to the pile, my heart swells with emotion and sweet assurance that all is right in the world, that love is the very thing that makes the impossible possible.

My mom kept her promise.

~Paula L. Silici

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