12 years ago, on April 12th, my life changed forever.
The phone rang with the news that my Dad had fallen, hit his head, was unresponsive and on his way to the emergency room. In a blur of panic I drove to the hospital, was guided through the dark twisting halls to doctors and nurses diligently working to revive my Father. As a completely helpless bystander I yelled to my Dad "Wake up, Dad!" "Come on, Dad!" "You can do this, Dad!" In a dreamlike haze of agony I was told there wasn't anything they could do and I lost all composure. I was hysterical and in utter shock.
Unable to process anything that had just happened, a complete blur of swirling emotions, my Mom drove me home for I was not in a state to drive myself. As we were getting off the expressway exit ramp, she pointed to the license plate on the car in front of us.
It said CRY. And I did.
God has so many ways to reach us if we are willing to pay attention. This sign was the first of many from my Dad and God that I’m not alone, that we’re not alone, that there is support and love even through the darkest times.
Since passing my Dad has most often given me glimpses of himself in the form of a cardinal. My first encounter was just days after, before the funeral. It was warm for April, I was sitting alone on my aunts front porch, trying to figure out my emotions, not knowing which way was up. I asked my Dad for a sign that all was going to be ok, that he was ok. Out of nowhere, a cardinal flew in front of me, from a giant pine and sat on a fence post. With the morning mist still wisping through the air and this bird looking directly at me waiting for me to acknowledge it, it was so surreal. I was flooded with a knowing, an understanding of peace, a feeling of awe and calm. This was my Dad answering my request.
The cardinal sat chirping, singing me its song, for what seemed like a lifetime. I stared in wonder and amazement of my Dad, of God and the miracle I just witnessed.
The first year after his death, was a rollercoaster of emotions. I knew that grieving was normal, that there wasn’t a wrong way to grieve and yet I was always questioning my stability. I was turbulent one day and solid and steady the next constantly shifting, changing, evolving, and releasing.
On the one-year anniversary of his passing I asked for another sign. Not long after, as I was sitting on my back porch, a cardinal flew to the deck and looked at me. The same feeling of knowing and peace washed over me, and then something astonishing happened. A wave of birds flew in, and then another, and yet another. I felt like they just kept flying in. I had dozens and dozens of birds, in all varieties, in my yard. I have never observed anything like that before. They were singing, chirping, talking. Hopping around each other in a dancing fashion. I sat silent, beyond amazed, in complete awe of the spectacular show I was witnessing. I now look at this occasion with a bit more knowing. This was not only my dad showing up for me but also all of my ancestors that have walked this path before me, telling me that I made it though a darkness like no other. Telling me that I was safe, to continue riding the emotional waves and I will always have support and love through my journey.
On the second year of my dad passing, a cardinal flew and sat right in front of me, staring at me. This was the brightest and most brilliant bird I have ever seen and so close I could make out the detail of his beak, the lines in his feathers, the markings on his feet and such an intense glowing red. When I made eye contact with this bird, he turned his head to the side communicating a hello awaiting my recognition and then flew off and chirped in a distant tree.
My Dad has made his presence known to me time and time again. In times of great joy, times of needing reassurance and mundane everyday life happenings. Even once while camping, I had the opportunity to hold a cardinal in my hands as it sat and looked at me. I thought that the bird had to have been injured to allow me to approach and gently pick it up. I gave the bird Reiki and it flew away. The things I have seen and experienced help me remember that were not in this life alone. That we have support from our loved ones that have shifted to the otherside, we have God and we have each other.
Life can become complicated, difficult to navigate and heavy. Know your team is with you. My dad has been a huge support and has gifted wisdom to me since passing. Having him in my spiritual entourage has allowed me to find strength and confidence.
My Dad is my Cardinal Direction in life and towards enlightenment.