Seeing with New Eyes
On more than one occasion, someone has said to me:
"Before you suggested it Tom, it never dawned on me that I could be happy again. I didn't know that healing was possible. I didn't know I could love again, or feel good again, or really live life again. Now that I know it's possible ... I'm on a mission. My goal is to create all that and more for myself."
If someone doesn't present an alternative to the "gloom and doom forever you will never be happy again" chorus that those of who are learning live with the death of someone we are so often bombarded by ... how will those new to this grief-thing know that there is an alternate route?
I love, love, love this story that Susan shared with me. I am so grateful she did. With her permission, I share it with all of you. Please marinate in it and open to the possibility that you, too, can experience this type of amazement. Please pass it on. Let others know that when we decide to see with new eyes and hear with new ears whole new worlds open up to us.
Worlds of connection and togetherness and hope and possibility and love.
Here's Susan's story:
"I wanted to share a story on the subject of "signs" from our loved ones. I've had a thousand signs from my husband, C.J. since he left this world suddenly a year ago, but this one was so powerful, and so universal, I'd like to tell you about it.
First, a bit of back story:
C.J. was a native son of New Orleans. Like many locals, he was a colorful and interesting character. He loved the French Quarter, and was known by almost everyone. He had taken to riding a bike for transportation, as it was easier to get around the narrow streets. He had bought himself a sharp black and red beach cruiser, with the name "Big Daddy" written on the frame. He agonized over the purchase, like a child, but was delighted with his decision. He attached a big basket to the front, for his tools and sometimes a six pack, and rode the streets greeting everyone with his gigantic grin. He took a lot of good-natured ribbing, and he loved it. And he loved that silly bike. I can still see him zipping along with his long dark hair flying behind him. It was his idea of heaven.
About a month after he died, I dragged myself to our little corner market for my only comfort, junk food. As I stepped outside into the bright sun, I notice movement on the street. I looked up to see a woman peddling a bicycle towards me. She was looking directly at me. Odd for our neighborhood, as most people don't make contact with each other. We locked eyes as she slowly rode by. She was smiling in a way that I found curious. It was gentle and sweet, and I couldn't help but smile back at her. I felt something in my heart, and my hand immediately covered it. So I'm standing on the sidewalk, hand over heart, taking in this image.
Her eyes were very deep blue. Her skin was pale, and I couldn't begin to guess her age. She had long, light blond hair, well past her waist, and it was trailing behind her. She was wearing a long, gauzy tunic and long skirt. The skirt was hiked up the her knees so she could pedal. Her clothing was all white. Everything was floating around her as she passed. Her feet were bare. What struck me most about her attire was a wreath of all white flowers in her hair. She was actually glowing.
Our eyes stayed locked until she passed, and she turned her gaze back to the street. I stood there, hand still over my heart, and watched her as she continued on her way. In that moment I noticed the bike. It was Big Daddy. Exactly the same bike that C.J. loved and rode each day, right down to the basket. I had never seen another before, nor have I seen another since. It was in that moment that I realized that he was still with me. I just needed a sign."
I asked Susan if she had a photo I could share when I posted this story. She generously emailed me this photo of "the bike" with this smile-inducing note:
"The parcel in the bike basket is CJ's ashes. I gifted the bike to his childhood friend, Kevin, and Kevin rode Big Daddy to the funeral home to pick up the remains. C.J. would have loved that! It's the way things are done here in New Orleans."