Faith and hope can be tricky things. To most people faith and hope are strong and sturdy like the foundation upon which houses and whole communities are built. But for me, those things seem to be fickle and unsteady– present, firm and unbreakable one minute and then the next it’s as if they’ve evaporated as easily as the next puff of air I’ll let escape my lungs.
After losing my mother, my faith was challenged in ways I never saw coming and in ways I’m often ashamed of. Grief showed up as a powerful force that made me question my belief in a higher power and everything else I’d been taught within my church walls. I found darkness and despair and welcomed them as new companions. I left anything else trailing behind me.
I was lost and hurting.
One day as I sat alone on the couch, overwhelmed with grief and emotion, I sobbed. My body shook as I struggled to take in proper breaths between the uncontrollable bawling. I cried. I yelled. I asked questions. I demanded answers for the pain and the realities I was facing. I asked my mom why she left so soon and what I was supposed to do without her. I begged. I pleaded. I cried more.
And then I was startled by the events that happened next and everything changed.
As I wept with the heaviest grief and pain I could imagine, a loud and sudden tap on the window left me surprised. As I glanced in the direction of the noise, another TAP TAP TAP, as if something was saying, “Hey! Stop. Look at me.”
And right there in front of me was the brightest, most vibrant red cardinal I had ever seen. I stared intently as it seemed to do the same. As I sat, frozen and in disbelief, it tapped one more time, gently, then stood steadily on the wood divider of the window, looking in at me.
My crying paused and my breath slowed. We’d seen many cardinals at our house, but never by the side of our house, and certainly never by our window, let alone on the rim of the window pane staring into the house. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
My gaze remained with that sentimental bird. I was trying to decide if it was real or if my grief had been playing tricks on my mind when my husband came in and asked what the noise was. I quickly explained and pointed to the window. He stood with me in disbelief and awe.
Cardinals were special in our family. They were significant. They had always been our family’s sign of the presence and love from those that had passed.
We remained there silent and still, watching this bird watch us. It didn’t move, it just kept looking intently in my direction. And I knew without a doubt, and without any need for confirmation from the man I loved sitting beside me, I knew this was my mother coming to calm me down and refocus my heartbreak.
I knew as I watched that delicate crimson bird that this was a moment that I’d never forget, one where love transcended time and eternity. One where my mother showed up for me, even after death, just like she always promised she would. I knew that this was something that many might chalk up to coincidence, but to the people in this room, both my husband and I, it was an undeniable gift from my mother– my new guardian angel.
Right there in that living room I had hit the deepest valley that grief had to offer and I saw no way out. I let grief’s pain and consequence paralyze and debilitate me. And those TAP TAP TAP’s, well, they set me free. They gave me hope and faith again. They reminded me whose daughter I was and that there is nothing bigger or greater than the love of a mother.
I’ve heard of guardian angels before, but this day was the day I witnessed one. This was the day that I realized love knows no limits and works farther and more powerful than the mind can grasp or comprehend.
That day, in that dark room, a bird restored my faith and my belief in angels, because mine showed up as one. Look around, what will yours show up as?
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.