100: Look for My Spirit in the Light

100: Look for My Spirit in the Light

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles

Look for My Spirit in the Light

We shall find peace. We shall hear angels. We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.

~Anton Chekhov

I’d stumbled through four months without my son. As I walked to my car, trying not to cry until I was inside it, I could already picture what would happen when I got home. I’d walk through the door, drop my bundles on the way to the living room, and crumble into a fetal position on the couch where I would stay until bedtime.

I managed to make it to my car without bursting into tears. That was a first. Had I reached a turning point? Was this the start of that longed for “getting better” people kept promising?

My route home from work had changed since the accident. The backcountry road I used to take was off limits to me. I hadn’t been on it after they called and told us to come to the crash site. Since that night the haunting vision repeatedly jolting me from sleep was of the tree with the crumpled car wrapped around it.

On this day my car approached the crossroad we’d travelled the night of the crash, following the glow of lights from the orchard we’d been instructed to report to. And then I heard a voice: “Go to the tree.”

“What? I’m not going to the tree,” I quickly said out loud.

“Go to the tree,” I heard again. It sounded like it was coming from the passenger seat beside me.

My panic at the thought of doing so overshadowed the wonder of what was happening as I argued yet again, “I am not going to the tree. There is no way I am going there.”

“Turn here. Go to the tree,” came the directions from a presence I could feel but not see.

“Fine. But I’m not staying there long.”

As I turned onto the road, a vision flashed before my eyes of rotating lights from emergency vehicles, an ambulance pulling away while another stayed, cars lining the shoulder and the street sign we parked under. Now, months later, I pulled my vehicle to a stop once again under the same sign.

I crossed the road and walked toward the tree. There were displays of affection lying at its base. Even though a few bags of memorabilia from this makeshift memorial were delivered to my home a few weeks earlier, more items had appeared at the base of the tree. As my eyes lifted to the trunk, noticing the scar and missing bark caused by the impact, I noticed writing where the bark should have been. People had written words of love and friendship. My son’s name was everywhere I looked amidst those words.

I didn’t feel a sense of darkness as I’d dreaded. Instead, I felt the outpouring of love for my son.

As if on cue, a truck pulled to the shoulder beside me. Two of Donovan’s friends approached me hesitantly. They said they had felt an unexplained pull to come to the tree also, their reluctance matching my own.

“Martha, what are you doing here?” one of them said.

“I don’t know. For some reason I feel drawn to this tree today,” I said. “This tree has haunted me for so long and I never thought I’d come here. But as I stand at this spot, I realize this is not where Donovan’s spirit is. When you two walked up my heart knew his spirit’s in you, carried within his friends.”

The boys shared a few stories of past visits they and others had made to this place where their friend died. They’d felt his presence there, through unexplained breezes in the leaves of the tree and other signs. My daughter had shared with me that on her first visit after the crash, she’d heard a wind chime hanging from one of the branches start to ring as she approached but stop upon her return to the car. As she turned to look back one last time, the wind chime began its melody again.

As I drove home, and replayed the afternoon’s events, I heard a voice as clearly as if it came from the radio itself: “Mom, look for my spirit in the light, not in the darkness.”

“Donovan, where are you?” I asked. And then I felt a calm that I hadn’t felt for four months. I left something at the tree that day — the thought that Donovan’s spirit was there. Now, instead, I know that his spirit is within the hearts of those who surrounded his days, who now shed light on mine as we share our memories.

~Martha Tessmer

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