Teenagers are the first to offer critique to their parents. It’s one of the first harsh lessons in parenting that no one really tells you about. I remember my youngest daughter, as a toddler, asking me why I was so squishy once. I think that was the end of mother-toddler shower time. Teenagers always tell you the unbridled truth if you ask for it or not. My daughters were always informing me of my foundation oxidizing, my mom jeans being out of style, my hair frizzing like Monica’s on Friends in Hawaii. (It’s a great episode if you haven’t seen it).
Teens are also relentless to their Dads. They are the first to complain about the timeline of a project, the need for more of anything, the breaking of electronics, the need for 8 days in a week to get all the tasks done, that a Dad needs to get done, especially a father of a large family. If he works from home, like my husband, he is bombarded from his wife and children to fix multiple broken objects, to check bank accounts, and the need to run forgotten errands while “working” from home.
One of the most vivid dreams I know my husband had after my daughter passed away was her asking him to fix her laptop. The interesting thing was that I had just gotten into it after weeks of trying and I had changed the password. Even in heaven, she had a few things to say about me messing with her laptop, but possibly she wanted him to remember he was still Mr. Fix it to her, and that touches my heart.
Through the first few months of grief, all of us had our moments, our songs, our messages from Heaven, but my husband. He set out in the rain alone to work on our daughter’s memorial bench site. Near him, only a few feet away sat the most beautiful, elegant blue heron. He worked in the rain all day. He was drenched as he maneuvered and measured, bolted and secured her beautiful bench. The entire time the heron sat on the rock near him observing. He sent me a picture of it and said, “look who is watching but not helping.” I knew immediately to whom he was referring, our beautiful daughter who would observe any project, always quick to offer her opinion, but never offer to break a sweat. As the bench project continued for a few weeks, the heron always visited when my husband was there, always watchful.
After the bench was installed I would sneak down to see the heron, it would come by once and awhile but it would never stay for the long visits it had with my husband. A few days later I went to visit a new friend from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I was telling her the story as we sat in her little paddle boat on the man-made lake by her house. Moments later. as we paddled under a little bride, we floated inched from a blue heron standing on the bank. I sat in awe staring at the majestic creature I was just talking about.
The following day I decided to take an Uber from work to meet my youngest girls at their nearby soccer tournament since I had taken public transportation into work that day. The driver turned out to be a pastor’s wife, using the Uber income to help fund mission projects and help her family. We talked about my daughter that had passed away and she gave me information about her mission work. As we were talking we ended up not where my destination was and I found myself at Heron Golf Course.
The day after the Uber trip I sat on my lunch hour continuing my research from grief therapy for one of my daughters. There had to be something more for children that didn’t make progress with one on one therapy. I called our Employee Assistance Program at my place of work. We talked for a while and I found a program that involves outdoor and animal therapy. The program is evidence-based and found to work faster than one on one traditional talk therapy. I decided to sign my daughter up for it. A few minutes later I was filling out the paperwork and realized the name of the place is Heron Hill. It melted my heart.
Possibly these are all coincidences, but honestly, I do not believe that they are. These helping Heron’s were meant for my husband and they are signs of help and hope in a way he would recognize, a critiquing, beautiful, watchful creature. I am sure if my husband had looked closer he would have seen it rolling its eyes at him. ❤