First day back to work…check! The day went well, but I’m exhausted. I sure missed my daily nap. Before I turn in for the night I wanted to share a more hopeful moment in my grief journey.
On one of my more recent hard days, the day that would have been her second month birthday, I began pleading for a sign. I needed God, Estelle, or anyone who would listen to send me sign. I needed a sign that Estelle was with me. I needed a sign that loved ones looking down on you isn’t complete rubbish. I needed a sign that I wasn’t alone.
I wasn’t sure when I’d get this sign. I figured it could be hours, days, or even years, but I clarified my request to have it not take too long. The next day I was heading to support group alone for the first time. Justin had been gone for a few nights already at an oddly timed drill weekend. My biggest fear about going alone was having to speak our story aloud. Usually Justin does that for us. As suspected, the story of Estelle came out in bits and pieces as I failed to sound coherent, but in the end it was ok and I made it through. As our time together was coming to an end, one of the facilitators gave us each a gift—forsythia branches.
They looked like random branches she picked up on a walk, but she explained how she brings these branches into her home because it’s one of the first plants to bloom every spring. She loves to garden as a way to honor her daughter and when winter gets long they bring her hope.
We joked about what it would mean if our branches never bloomed, but she insisted they would when we least expected it, and that they would bloom yellow flowers. Yellow. I stopped dead in my tracks, and thought, yellow. I was so happy to hear the blooms would be yellow. I can’t explain why, but yellow is the color that reminds me of Estelle. My first sign. (Side note: The Forsythia plant is named after William Forsyth who was royal head gardener and a founding member of the Royal Horticultural Society. Take that for what you will as well!)
Fast forward a week and a half later. I’m writing and tubbing and of course, crying. I’m worried about my first day back to work and settling back in to “normal.” I worry about what it will be like for all of us to be getting back into a routine that was once so familiar but now felt strange.
After getting the words out, and the tears, I started to feel better. I was making dinner, prepping for the next day, when Justin let out a little gasp. He said, “Look! The branches are starting to bloom!”
And just like that, the night before I returned to work, Estelle sent a little message to let me know she’s still with me.