Grief is a funny thing, it comes and goes in waves. Sometimes the waves are bigger than others and there is no rhyme or reason to it.
Part One :
It has been a year since my good friend Earnie Dalton passed away. We were an unusual pair. He was a sixty something, formerly homeless and recovering drug-addicted black man and I am a forty-something, privileged white woman who has not seen the dark side of the streets. To say we came from two different worlds would be a gross understatement. Sometimes, there are people you are destined to connect with no matter where you are from or what you have in common.
We met at church. I was the church secretary and he was a parishioner. He used to give me his offering to put in the plate and I leaned heavily on him for plumbing advice. If you are open - small things can turn into big things. Those small interactions turned into long discussions over breakfast at Denny's, visits to his mother's grave and meals at my home.
It was August 2016 when he passed. We were moving to Germany that same week. I was so busy with the move that I was able to push all my feelings down deep inside. I missed the funeral and meeting his family and felt very guilty.
Periodically, I am overcome by waves of grief. They come out of nowhere and I feel that sense of loss again. I find myself trying to call on him as a "spirit guide". I am sorry I took any of our daily text conversations for granted. I miss my friend.
It occurred to me recently why he was so special. I know, no matter what, Earnie Dalton totally accepted me for who I was. He did not judge me. I always felt like he just offered me his unconditional love and support. What a gift! What a gift and a difference that makes to another person. True unconditional love is rare. To know that no matter what- you are accepted in another persons eyes is healing. It helps you love and accept yourself. Love for and between people you are trying to please or take pleasure in is not the same, those are conditions. Unconditional love is precious. Earnie and I had a lot of long conversations about the past, relationships, important things and ordinary things. He confided things to me and I hope that means he felt I offered him unconditional love and support as well. If not, Earnie, I am so sorry I fell short. I love you and I miss you and I am still calling on you up there!
I asked before bed one night for Earnie to come to me in my dreams and show me he was here in spirit. (I believe in things like that) I asked specifically for him to tell me what "our" sign would be so that if I saw the aforementioned sign then I knew it would be from him. When I woke up I was disappointed, I did not remember dreaming about Earnie (but that does not mean it did not happen.)
Later in the day I was walking my dog and spotted some large hawk feathers in someone's car. I remembered that I had heard feathers could be symbols from spirit. So I said to myself and whoever was listening "Okay spirits, whoever is there and listening to me, send me a feather on this walk, I need a sign!"
So, for about an hour, I walked my dog- no feather. To be fair, during most of my walk I was distracted. I was taking photos for Instagram, I was looking at the dog, etc. I got about a block from home (I had gotten mindful in my walk again) and was starting to despair that I had not found a feather. I looked down and there on the sidewalk was a tiny, little black feather from a blackbird. My heart stopped, tears welled in my eyes and I knew it was Earnie. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and had the feeling that he was standing behind me. It made sense that it would be a blackbird's feather. Earnie and I talked a lot about race.
Later in the day, I was standing painting at my easel. My attention was drawn to the window. I looked out and saw a black bird fly right to the window. It tapped the glass and then flew to sit on a fence right outside the window. Then this bird sat there and pointedly glared at me. And I mean GLARED at me, then after a few moments it flew away. A bird had never done that before or since. I knew for sure it was Earnie. I think he came by just to prove to me that he really was here.
I believe he is here and where ever else he is needed, the same with the other people we love that have passed on. Somehow, inexplicably, they can come and go when we need them or maybe when they want to check up on us.
Since then I have found a lot of bird feathers. I always pick them up, say a little prayer and feel gratitude for all those Saints who are still in my life.
I wish today for you to have a peaceful heart, to feel the love of those here and gone and to find a lot of bird feathers!
Until next time,
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