20: Just When She Needed Him

20: Just When She Needed Him

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Just When She Needed Him

Even hundredfold grief is divisible by love.

~Terri Guillemets

Could it be true? That was all I could ask myself as I listened to my daughter share her experience at school that day. Five months earlier our thirteen-year-old son had lost his fight with brain cancer and gone Home to be with the Lord. We had watched Nick fight a brave and faith-filled fight for over six years. Olivia, who was nine at the time of his death, struggled deeply with the loss of her older brother. On top of the grief, Olivia was dealing with some complicated and hurtful friend issues at school as well as having difficulty concentrating in many of her classes.

At the same time, several members of our family were finding pennies in unusual places just when they needed a little reason to smile. These pennies were like gifts from Nick. I’ll never forget taking down our Christmas tree and finding a single penny immediately underneath the tree stand. Nick had been alive when we put up our tree, so taking it down was painfully symbolic of how much our family had changed over one short holiday. When I saw the penny, I felt as if Nick was saying, “You’re doing good, Mom, keep pressing on!”

On the day of Olivia’s unbelievable experience, I had picked her up from school as usual. Olivia seemed to be in a somber mood all evening. I assumed it was due to the stress she had been under recently, so I did not question her quiet, reflective spirit. As I tucked her into bed later that evening, she began to cry as she shared some of the details about the tough situations she faced each day at school involving a few of her closest friends.

Suddenly Olivia blurted out through her tears, “And Nick was at school today!”

I thought I had not heard her correctly.

She said it again with even more passion. “I saw Nick today at school. He wasn’t all the way there, Mom, but he was there!”

I sat in disbelief for a few minutes. Then, trying to be calm because she was very serious and passionate about this, I asked her to tell me exactly what had happened. She told me that as she was walking back to her classroom after lunch, she saw a penny lying on the floor. She picked it up and glanced down the hall to see if someone nearby had dropped it. When she looked back, she said that Nick was standing next to the water fountain.

“What was he doing?” I asked.

She replied very calmly, “Smiling.”

I sat again for a few minutes, soaking in the experience Olivia had just described. Then I asked the only thing I could think to ask. “What was he wearing?”

She confidently said, “Jeans and a jacket.”

I thought of how Nick had gone through difficult times at school when he was a young boy and how he had fretted about friendships from time to time. I then thought of how much he loved Olivia and how the Bible says we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses as we walk the road of faith. Suddenly, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God had allowed Nick to step through the thin veil between life and death so he could let his sister know that even at school, where she felt all alone at times, he was there, cheering her on with his precious, unforgettable smile.

When my husband arrived home from night class that evening, I shared the entire story with him. He took Olivia’s hand and said, “Olivia, you are a lucky little girl. I wish I could see Nick too.”

Since that day, we have found many more pennies in strange locations and at special times when we need to be reminded that this world is not our home forever. I believe that God has given Nick the fun task of keeping us all alert, looking up, and longing for the day when our faith becomes sight!

I’m so thankful that Olivia, with her childlike faith, was allowed to see more than an adult mind could ever comprehend.

Thanks to a Father who longs to give good gifts to His children, Olivia was able to see her brother Nick just when she needed him.

~Tammy A. Nischan

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