In nursing, we learn to look for signs and symptoms that lead to nursing diagnosis. If you follow the clues, they usually lead to the problem or the source. What if you were broken and lived in a world where you asked your source for signs? It’s like an equation in my mind. Move one piece around and the same pieces fall into the spots.
My friend at work who lost her best friend and had the butterfly on her wedding dress recommended a book. Signs the Secret Language of the Universe. She explains in the first part of the book that the source is God and everything comes from him. She tells a story about giving a speech at a conference and asking for confirmation that it went well by an orange. She walks out into the area where they are preparing lunch and there are crates and crates of oranges everywhere. She didn’t get one, she got thousands.
I find this concept fascinating. Do we psychologically pick something that will make sense later or that we invite into the world as my daughter’s boyfriend suggests? I don’t know, but I was determined to give it a try after a week of trying to hold myself together without losing my emotions around my family.
I was contemplating this while finishing up a procedure at work. What would be something relevant to Mikenna that I could ask for as a sign? I thought about a song I used to sing to her when she was little in her bed at night after butterfly kisses on both cheeks, or when we were hiking and she would complain we still had quite a way to go. I would sing a version of Frank Sinatra’s, High Hopes song. What can make that little old ant, think he can move a rubber tree plant? Everyone knows an ant can’t Move a rubber tree plant. But he had highhhh hopes. He had highhhhh hopes. He had high apple pie in the sky hopes. So every time you’re feeling down and you start to frown, just remember that ant!
So I asked for an ant. Riding home on the train, I got an email from my 23 and me about a second cousin. I reached out to my cousin on my father’s side and told her about the ancestry information. She said it was too bad I didn’t have any contact with my biological father or his sister since she had had all of our ancestry information. I hadn’t talked to my bio dad in 18 years or his sister. In fact, I noticed I had tried to reach out to her by facebook 2 years ago and hadn’t had any response. My cousin also sent her cell info so I sent her another message and went about my day. About an hour later, to my surprise, I received a very detailed message from my Aunt including information and contact information about my biological father. As I look at the phone I thought, wait a minute, is this my ANT/AUNT? I was given an aunt, interesting.
Still considering this as my possible sign, I went back to work the following day and I was the head nurse for the day. Sometime around lunch, I got the strangest call. In the operating room, all the air is filtered and all the gowns and drapes are sterile to prevent the patient from infection. Outside boxes, bags, and shoes are not permitted in an operating room. The surgical assistant called me into the room because for the first time, in anyone’s experience, an ant was on the surgeon’s surgical gown. No one could explain how it got there. Crazy.
Still pondering the idea of asking for confirmation that I am on the correct path, I straightened my hair before going to my first high school to present a suicide prevention video. It wasn’t just any school, It was the school my daughter that passed and my eldest daughter attended. I couldn’t come up with anything that would be a decent confirmation that what I am doing is worthwhile. The author of the book used an orange. How about grapes? I had nothing else I could think of so grapes it was. Being a nurse I figured I had the ability to put my emotions aside and talk to the students as a professional. Nope.
I entered the building and immediately remembered bringing Mikenna there for her orientation. I remembered being a parent sitting at the round tables signing up to volunteer. I shook hands with the principal and felt a lump in my throat. Luckily the representative for AFSP was there. I asked him to do all the talking so I could watch him facilitate and I could know how to run a presentation for the next school. I wouldn’t have to talk. (Or so I thought.)
The presentation got started and I sat down. I looked around the room and noticed they had painted the entire inside of the common room where the presentation was. The same room I had sat years earlier with Mikenna. I turned around and asked the counselor if they had recently painted the inside of the school. She acknowledged that they had. I said, “it is such a dramatic color”. I was thinking I know that color well, It is one of my favorite colors, the color of my nonprofit, Mikenna’s favorite color, but more specifically it is the exact color of years of making sandwiches, it is the one side of a PB and J) I love it I said, “It’s GRAPE”.
A few minutes later and the principal askes me to stand up and share my story. Crap. I stand up and after a brief shaking of my voice, I share a little about Mikenna and her struggle. I made sure to do her proud and mention being second in her class with a 3.99999. Valedictorian was taken away from her the day before her speech by her runner up.
We made it through the presentation and I thought about the 170 kids that had just heard it. I’ll never know if we reached someone enough to get help. If we kept another family from walking this path. I came home and fell apart and hugged my husband. I have to keep trying in her name, I am thankful for the people that have joined my crusade and walk alongside me. Maybe following the signs is part of my own psyche. A way to cope with the impossible. I choose to believe and have faith that God knows I am trudging through quicksand and will give me what I need to continue on. To celebrate getting through this hurdle of speaking at her school, I have chosen to have myself a PBJ, here in the kitchen, with all my memories or four little loud girls rushing out the door sack lunches in hand.