Before you died, I wasn't a firm believer in signs.
Actually, I'm ashamed to say that I felt sorry for those who flocked to the psychics, paid for mediums, analyzed photographs of blurred images and talked to their deceased family members through candles. I never felt above it all, but somehow, for me there were always more questions to be asked.
Truthfully I'm still not big on signs. But also, a lot has changed.
After you died there was that brief period where I watched "Long Island Medium" for six days straight, insisting to your father that she had to be legit.
"Seriously?" was his typical response.
And maybe I wasn't. I had just learned how it feels when your baby dies, and so maybe I was desperate to feel you. To see you in something, anything. And really, what did I really know about the world anyway...because the week before I was pretty positive my baby wouldn't die, so maybe we'd been wrong about this too. And so maybe I was clinging to Theresa Caputo for now, and what was so wrong with that?
Usually he would bring me coffee, pat my shoulder and kiss me on the cheek, and then I'd resume my new favorite show.
Last month we had family photos taken. They're perfect, save for the perpetual, gaping absence I see in every single one.
I made sure to include you. I brought our Josie Bear along to the shoot and I wore your necklace, the one you wore the last morning we were with you. It was a really beautiful fall day with picturesque scenery and an amazingly patient, talented photographer.
A few weeks later she sent me a message while editing. On some of the group shots, a rainbow aura appears next to your little brother. In one of the photos he seems to be staring straight at it. The photographer assured me that this was not a normal lens flare, and that she believes it to be you there, with us in the photos. When I first saw the picture it gave me chills. And so I thanked her and I thought about it all day. And the next. And the next.
I want to believe it's you. I want nothing more. I know so many women who feel their babies in sunsets and butterflies and lilies and ladybugs, and I want that. I want to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt or critique, that you're here with me. I want to feel you holding my hand during the difficult day, find you fluttering on my window at the stoplight. I want to cradle you in a song and I want you to lift me, lift me from this jaded place whenever I'm in doubt. And I guess my main problem is that I'll never really have that. I'll never really have the proof, so I'm left to just believe.
The other day I stopped at CVS. It had been a rainy day. Not monsoon-esque, just dreary. Wet. Gray.
I was running late and I needed to buy a card and some detangler, among a handful of other items and there in the checkout lane I spotted Kim Kardashian. Some cover shoot on why she named her baby "Saint."
And it came over me then, like it always does. Suddenly. Seemingly from out of nowhere. Why me? Why you? I'm not proud of these thoughts, but I own them just the same.
The man behind the counter was foreign, with a green vest and a "Happy Holidays!" pin and for a moment I caught myself elsewhere. In that other world that's always just ahead of me. The one where you're alive and I'm not brought to tears by US Weekly.
"Here comes the sun."
His words startled me. I looked up to find him, motioning with my detangler towards the automatic door. The first patch of yellow all day.
"It's better, yes?"
And I felt you then, sure as I ever have. And he's right.
It was better.