11: The Love Bugs

11: The Love Bugs

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

The Love Bugs

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.

~Saint Augustine

My husband Joey and I were newly minted empty nesters. Our son Joshua had recently moved into an apartment fifty miles away. And while I was proud that my son was spreading his wings and becoming independent, I couldn’t help feeling sad.

My empty-nest syndrome was compounded by the fact that we had lost Joshua’s only sibling, his sister Kyley, in a car accident. As Joshua’s mother, I felt it was my job to protect him from any unforeseen danger. How could I possibly do that with him living an hour away? When Joshua admitted to being homesick, it further fueled the anxiety I was experiencing.

Sensing I needed to get out of the house, Joey suggested we go out to dinner. Spending more alone time with my husband was the upside to being an empty nester, and I eagerly accepted his invitation.

As we got to the car, Joey said, “Melissa, look!” There was a ladybug on the driver’s door handle. I smiled. We had nicknamed our daughter Kyley-Bug, and ladybugs now provided us a sweet reminder of our girl.

All of a sudden, the ladybug took flight and landed right in the middle of my chest. She stayed for a few seconds before flying over to Joey and landing in the exact same spot on him. And then she was gone.

“Oh, my gosh! That was cool!” I squealed.

“Yeah, it’s like that ladybug went straight to both of our hearts,” Joey added as he cleared his throat, trying to rid his voice of emotion.

As we ate dinner, the conversation inevitably turned to our little red visitor. We’d had several ladybug encounters in the years since Kyley died, but this one felt special, like it had been divinely orchestrated — a sign perhaps? Joey agreed.

“All right, you two love bugs, here’s your check.” Our waitress set our bill on the table and promised to be right back. I grabbed my phone, fervently typing away.

“What are you doing?” Joey asked.

“I’m looking for something.” I answered without looking up. Finding what I was searching for, I turned my attention back to my husband.

“Did you hear what the waitress called us?” I asked Joey. “Don’t you find it a little strange that she would refer to us as love bugs? I mean, we’re more than twice her age, and it’s not like we’re acting particularly lovey-dovey,” I finished, before reaching across the table to hand my husband my phone.

A picture of a ladybug sitting on a woman’s finger filled the screen. It accompanied an essay I had written that had been shared on the Internet. The story documented a time, years earlier, when I desperately needed a sign that my daughter was still with us. We had walked outside our house one Thanksgiving day and were overwhelmed by hundreds, if not thousands, of ladybugs blanketing our home and cars. The title of my ladybug essay: “The Love Bugs.”

“It can’t be a coincidence,” I told Joey.

“No, it’s definitely no coincidence,” my husband said thoughtfully. “I wish a ladybug would visit Joshua, too. Maybe it would help him feel less homesick.”

I was giddy on the drive home. I had gone months without seeing a single ladybug, and it had been years since I’d received what I would consider a sign that our daughter was near.

Joey stopped for gas, and just as he was about to get out of the car, my phone dinged. I clicked on the screen, and a message from my son appeared, accompanied by a picture.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I gasped.

“What’s the matter?” Joey asked.

Nothing was wrong… everything was just fine. There on the screen was a picture of a ladybug camped out on my son’s jeans. Joshua’s accompanying message revealed that he had spent the afternoon in his apartment watching television. He happened to look down and was surprised to find he had a visitor.

I breathed a sigh of relief. My son may have moved fifty miles away, but I needn’t worry about him. It would seem he wasn’t alone after all, and neither were his dad and I.

~Melissa Wootan

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