It had crossed my mind a few times that this day might eventually come, but I wasn’t quite sure. I admired those other brave people who could so valiantly turn tragedy into triumph and use it to help others, but I preferred to shut the world out. I was hopelessly engulfed in the most heart-wrenching trauma conceivable, and resigned to suffer alone against this all-consuming force that had redefined my very identity. So the thought of ever writing about it laid dormant in my mind, buried deep amid the ever-present, relentlessly agonizing grief of my new existence, a life I never imagined I was capable of surviving.
Even now as my fingers move across the keyboard, I feel my heart squeezing tiny pangs of resistance and my stomach somersaulting in queasy uneasiness. Laying bare such raw and private emotion is daunting and exhausting. And…, would Nathan want me to share it? After all, it’s his story too. That was another part of my hesitation, for I would never violate his privacy. But it’s close to three years now and he let me know that it’s time, and he fully approves.
Deep down I longed to somehow emerge from the daily devastating despair, only because I have three other sons and a husband to continue living life with, although more often than not I wished that mine would end too. I apologize for that selfishness, but I want to stay honest.
Being thrust into such unimaginable grief destroyed everything I ever believed in. Life was suddenly unbearably cruel, and there was no reasonable explanation, nor any relief to be found – not in God, not in counseling or groups, not in anti-depressant meds. There were simply no available words, to be spoken by anyone, to ease this pain – and I refused to dull it with drugs. Only one hope existed, and that’s what I clung to. My love for my son could stretch beyond this earth, past all the stars, through the entire universe, to reach him wherever he had journeyed to. I had even written it years before in one of my poems: “For all around love never dies; it just moves on to soar the skies.” Now, I was desperately faced with proving those words to be true. My survival and sanity depended on it.
The hours merged to days and weeks and months as I researched and read about esoteric theories, soul evolution, and life-after-death experiences. Through billions of tears, I spoke to my son and pleaded with whatever entities could hear me – pleas for wisdom and truth to make it through this tormenting anguish. And most of all, to validate that I could still connect and communicate with my son; that our bond could not be severed even though I didn’t have his physical presence; and that love could and would transcend through space and time, and last for all eternity.
Several months ago I began a daily routine of walking at a park just one mile from my house. Communing with the tranquility and beauty of nature is such a blessing and has become an almost sacred respite. On the short drive there, the tears flowed as usual and I implored Nathan to send me a definitive sign that he was okay and happy and safe, since I often feared that maybe he was not. Although he had given me many signs before – tons of feathers, hummingbirds, butterflies – I could easily second-guess myself and deem those as wishful thinking.
But on this day, October 23, 2016, that minuscule glimmer of hope that barely flickered inside my being, mostly obscured and extinguished in darkness, shimmered brightly and joyfully, through grateful, awe-struck tears. My son gifted me with the most amazing response, and also the courage and affirmation to begin our story.
It was the first mile around on my favorite part of the trail, where it slopes down gently and is flanked by graceful trees on either side.
I almost walked past it, but suddenly turned my head and immediately spotted it lying in my path right beside where I had just stepped. How odd, I thought, a single playing card on the ground with nothing else around, lending no clue as to where it came from, including no other objects or debris. I picked it up, noticing the 3 of hearts, and instantly anticipated my sign, although I hadn’t expected that Nathan would respond so quickly. I examined it carefully. Could it really be? My mind raced as one by one I realized the many meanings and synchronicities contained in my newfound treasure, all precious messages from my son. Yes! This was absolutely not a coincidence.
I turned the card over and realized the design on the back is the same design on the deck of cards that my family often plays rummy with.
They set on the kitchen table, upon the decorative tile that displays Nathan’s favorite fleur-de-lis symbol, which I bought in his remembrance.
Once I arrived home, I rushed inside to see if the 3 of hearts was missing; it was not. Then I noticed that the heart placement on the two cards is different.
Nathan’s message: He’s still with us, aware of our activities, and can see the little details of our lives.
There are 5 hearts on the card. The 3 smaller hearts in the center are encased in a rectangle and represent Nathan’s 3 brothers; the 2 larger hearts represent his father and me.
Nathan’s Message: He’s watching over all 5 of us.
The two 3’s on the card add up to 6, which represents the 6 members of our family. There are also 6 angels on the back of the card, 2 larger ones in the center and a smaller one in each corner.
Nathan’s Message: Our whole family will be together again someday.
Each day I walk 3 times around the park, which equals 3 miles.
Nathan’s Message: He sees me, and is with me, and even walks with me.
There are also several apparent synchronicities when adding the numbers and objects on the card:
Adding the two 3’s equals 6, which represents the 6th month of the year. Nathan was born in June. Adding the 6 plus the 5 hearts equals 11, and his birthday is June 11th.
The two 3’s combined make the number 33. I found the card on 10/23/2016. Adding the numbers 10 + 23 = 33. Adding the year numbers of 2 + 0 + 1 + 6 = 9; and 3 x 3 = 9.
The preceding day, October 22, 2016, was 3 months short of the 3-year anniversary of losing him.
And lastly, how fitting the name of this lovely site that would host such a magnificent encounter:
I have grown to deeply believe in angels and guides, so I was a little familiar with angel numbers. Nathan was also very knowledgeable on this subject and had previously told me about the significance of number 33. As I read all of the following, I knew my son was speaking to me, comforting me, and encouraging me to move forward – out of the crushing desolation that has consumed me for so long.
I always believed that if these things were possible, my son could and would master whatever skills are required. He had always been exceedingly wise beyond his years, and I am overcome with pride and wonder. Through his most brilliant of signs, Nathan bridged the elusive, unknown chasm of our two worlds to help ease my debilitating sadness and assure me that he is well.
My heart will still ache every single day for the rest of my life. He was my giant, standing 6’4” with the most radiant smile – so strong, and brimming with talent and charm. He is the only one who could ever help me cope with this altered reality that I must endure, and now he confirmed that he will. He is my angel and with me always, because love is more powerful than life or death, and most assuredly does survive for all eternity. And just maybe…, there is no chasm at all.