Tuesday, June 19, 2012


It was the afternoon of Halloween. Quincy’s First Grade class was having their celebration. Rob and I walked to the school to drop off Quincy's costume. When we got there, we discovered that he was using another costume. We watched the kids dance to appropriately chosen theme music, snapped some photos and then we walked home.

My heart was so heavy with thoughts of my dad. He was in South Carolina literally on his deathbed. I knew it wouldn’t be long until he was gone from my life forever. Rob and I walked hand in hand in silence except for the footsteps his combat boots and my Danskos made with leaves crunching under our feet. I was wearing an ivory colored sweater. I noticed a ladybug landed on my chest. Then it took flight again and flew near my right shoulder at the same pace that we walked. I thought that was so neat. Since that ladybug interrupted my intense thoughts of my dad, I decided that I would always think of my dad whenever I saw a ladybug. It granted me some comfort. Rob and I walked the rest of the way to our home.

The next day, my dad was taken by ambulance to the VA hospital in Charlotte. Karen followed in her car.  We talked briefly. She told me she would call once he had been admitted.

The day progressed on and the news nor my dad’s condition never improved. In fact, dad was actively dying and I hated the thought. Later that night, Karen called and told me that my dad’s breathing had changed and she was certain this would be the last change before the suffering ended. She allowed me to say goodbye to him one more time. Through tears and sobs, I told him it was okay for him to go and that he was a good dad. I told him I would be all right. Karen called my sister.

God! I wanted to be in the room with my dad. The few minutes that my sister got to talk to my dad to say goodbye felt like and eternity. I felt small and alone. I longed for connection. I sent a text message and asked my sister to call me when she hung up. She did. We talked about dad and about other things.

I suddenly remembered the ladybug from the day before. I sent Karen a series of text messages. The first one read: “Karen, will you please ask my dad to send me ladybugs when he gets there?” The next one read: “Karen, I know you are busy, but this is really important. Can you please whisper in his ear to send me ladybugs?” No reply came. The next was, “Karen? Are you getting my messages? I need to know he hears this message before it’s too late.” She didn’t respond.

For each message I sent, I didn’t get a response from her. My mind and my heart started racing. I tried to stay in the moment in the conversation with my sister, but I couldn’t focus. I knew my dad was dying and all I could think about was him. My sister was in the middle of a sentence and I said, “I’m sorry, Danielle. I need to let you go. I need to call Karen to ask her something.”

She said, “Do you mind if I ask what you’re going to ask her?”

I felt an intense surge of urgency. I told her, “I’m sorry. I need to call her right now. I will tell you about it in a few minutes when I call you back. Don’t leave your phone. This won’t take long. I promise I will call you back in a few minutes.”

I hung up with Danielle and used speed dial to call Karen. Her phone rang five times and went to voicemail. I hung up and called right back. I knew she couldn’t have gotten too far from her phone. I must’ve called three or four times and each time the phone call was answered by voicemail. I was feeling really panicked at this point. I sent Danielle a text and started to explain to her what I wanted to ask for and about that time, Karen called me back. I answered my phone with the usual, “Hello?”

Karen responded with, “Kelly, he’s gone.” She was crying. And she said it again, “Kelly! He’s GONE!”

In that moment, I heard a loud, heavy, iron door slam shut in my heart and mind. I knew there was no going back on this one. I cried out, “OH MY GOD! OH NO!” Then I burst into tears. I knew I would never hear his voice again. I knew I would never get another birthday card from him. I knew it was over and he was gone forever.

When I started crying, my kids came in and sat on my bed with me. Without asking, they knew the reason for my tears.

My heart sank. I realized my dad didn’t know that I wanted him to send me ladybugs.

I asked Alex to use his cell phone to call my sister. He did. My sister was on Alex’s phone and Karen was on my cell phone. I held both phones to opposite ears.

I don’t remember now how it came up. I must have told my sister that I was trying to call Karen to ask about the ladybugs and my sister said, “Kelly he knew. He knew what was on your mind.”

I wanted to believe her, but I just couldn’t. I tried, but somewhere in my heart I just wanted to know that he heard my request. Karen had other phone calls she needed to make, too. So we hung up and I continued on with Danielle. We called our mother three-way and told her the news.

We talked and cried and laughed and cried and talked until my mom said she wanted to call her sister. She hung up. My sister and I talked until about 1:30 my time. I went downstairs into my living room. My husband was with me as was my older son, Ryan. They listened quietly as I talked and cried with my sister.

Ryan whispered, “Mom! Mom! Look!”

I got up from my seat on the loveseat and walked around to the dining area. Jitter, our cat, was sitting on the tile floor poking at something with his paw as a curious cat would.

I strained my eyes to see what the cat was poking. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I gasped and said, “Is that?…..a? No way! A LADYBUG???” I started laughing and crying at the same time. I exclaimed, “Danielle! You are NOT going to believe THIS! There is a ladybug in my dining room right now!” I went over and bent down and held out a finger so the ladybug could crawl onto my hand.

I would NOT have believed it myself if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.  A ladybug was in my house on November 2nd. I was certain it was just for me.

It goes without saying that I felt pretty darned special about that.

I received four more ladybugs daily….and now only sporadically. Of course I expect to see and look for ladybugs in the garden. It is nice to see them. The ones I consider special gifts are the ones that land on the window of the bedroom that was my dad's. Or the ones that land on me. They are all tiny blessings, for sure.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Lovely. Words are inadequate