We are experiencing a cold winter with wild winds and heavy amounts of snow. It has gone past the winter wonderland stage with me and slid right into feeling like frigid isolation.
The combination of the letdown after the holidays and the cold winter weather typically opens to a kind of quiet, slow, sad time for me. January has never been my favorite month.
Except for January of 1985. That is the year I was gifted with my son, Jameson Tanner, - J.T., as he preferred.
That January I relished the cold winter that kept me bound to my home and my baby. I remember the delicious days of holding him bundled in my arms, rocking for hours in the same chair I had rocked my other babies. I would sip hot tea and stare at his tiny face, in awe of the miracle I had been given, knowing it would be the last time I would step into the arena of motherhood.
As the wind and snow whirled outside, I hoped the moments of grace and innocence would be frozen in that rocking chair. I hoped the winter of 1985 would last forever. It didn’t.
The calendar pages turned, and Jan. 14, 2022, is J.T.’s 37 birthday - and it is the 15th January I will have celebrated without him. Since his passing, I have learned to count. In the beginning, it was the weeks since he left, then months, and years. I count holidays. I count how many of his friends have married. I count how many babies have been born and how many people have passed. I count events he has missed. The number is always followed with, “since J.T. passed.”
This cold January wind reminded me of two years ago when I was thinking of his 35th birthday. I was talking to him as I often do. I tell him about what he has missed, how I miss him, and how I need to feel his hugs and hear his voice. Over the years, I believe, I have received messages from him in magical ways. These come in the form of smoke alarms and electronics going off, finding guitar picks in odd places, license plates, and music. He was a musician, so music was large in his life. He loved the Beatles, the Eagles, punk, and hard rock. If there were drums or a guitar in it, he loved it. During the time of his passing, he was in a Bob Dylan phase, so of course, we played a Bob Dylan song at his funeral.
I talked to him as I prepared the contribution to his daughter’s college fund that I make every year in honor of his birthday. As I wrote out the check, I was missing him terribly. I told him how beautiful his daughter is and thanked him for giving us this lovely soul to remember him by. After tucking the donation letter into an envelope, I grabbed a package I needed to mail and headed to the post office. The line was long. I waited with unusual patience. It gave me time to think about him.
When it was my turn, I chatted with the clerk as she weighed the package. I put my credit card in the machine and saw the envelope in my purse. I said,
“Oh, and this letter is all stamped and ready,” as I handed it to her.
Just then music began playing. The clerk said,
“Well, that is good timing, we are all done, and someone is trying to call you.”
I looked at her confused. That wasn’t my phone. It wasn’t the normal ring. I looked in the side pocket of my purse and my phone was not in its usual spot. Then I realized the music WAS coming from my purse. I dug deeper to the bottom where I found my phone playing a song from iTunes- Bob Dylan’s, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.”
I thanked the clerk, silenced my phone, and ran out into the winter cold to my car. I never listen to iTunes. The phone was at the bottom of my purse and spontaneously began playing just as I handed the clerk the donation letter for J.T.’s daughter.
I guess the clerk was right. Someone was trying to call me. J.T. was sending his approval. It was one of his perfectly-timed messages. Suddenly, the winter didn’t seem so bad. Suddenly, I felt warm and surrounded by one of his glorious hugs.
This week as I celebrate his 37th birthday, I will be watching and listening for one of his messages. When it arrives, once again, I will believe.
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Pennie's Life Lesson: If you watch and listen, messages will come. I believe.
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