Newsletters about loss and grieving contain many articles and personal stories about the presence of a loved one after he or she is gone. Perhaps a dragonfly represents a lost child and when one sees a dragonfly, they think of their child. Maybe a special song comes on…the weather on a particular day invokes pungent memories. I read about these—I believed them at some level, but the skeptic in me saw them as initiated not by the spirit of the past, but as a way for the living to invoke memories. “It must be [insert name of loved one] trying to contact me,” when in fact it is probably more an emotional response of the survivor feeling the need to remember and grieve.
But yesterday, a cricket was on the roof of our car as we left Sam’s Club on a particularly dreary late Friday afternoon. It was a routine visit …we went to pick up cheese and milk and avocados …nothing special. We were all sitting around the living room after nap (My husband Scot is home now because he’s laid off from work) and Syd, our fourteen-month-old was bouncing around from toy to toy. “Should we all run to Sam’s? Get out of the house?” No big deal … shoes and socks, coats, diaper bags, extra milk (just in case), and we’re off.
I should add that a cricket is an unusual talisman. After one miscarriage and over a year of trying, Scot and I had a successful round of IUI (Intrauterine insemination) and were at our five-week ultrasound. It was twins. Two sacs, two heartbeats. We listened to Baby A … little flutters … present, strong enough, but light. We agreed that it sounded like a cricket chirping. Then came baby B … BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. Now THAT’S a heartbeat. Scot called her Thor—hoping for a boy anyway. And so we had our Cricket and Thor. When we switched doctors, they ordered the babies differently. A became B and thus, Sydney is our Thor and Lucy became our cricket. We remembered this periodically throughout the pregnancy. Subsequent heart sounds were the same … though Lucy’s was always a little lighter, we attributed it to her placement in the womb – and her sister’s incessant kicking. (Syd HATED monitoring. For over five weeks in the hospital, every morning a nurse and I would try and find her. If we found her heartbeat, she’d kick the monitor off in minutes. I saw her turn her back away from the ultrasound probe in front of the doctor. “Go away!” she said. Lucy would always acquiesce. She would pass her biophysical profiles … Syd would wait until thirty seconds before time expired to do a little practice breathing—never one to perform on someone else’s schedule.)
And so, when Lucy was dying, we remembered our cricket. Lucy died a day after she was born in our arms, across town from her sister. We created a memory garden for Lucy and searched for garden crickets. They have butterflies, dragonflies, fairies, ladybugs, even monkeys (?) but crickets were few and far between. I found a set of three … little three-inch crickets and so they sit among her garden and stepping stone.
I like to think that Syd talks with and feels Lucy’s presence often. Many times of late she’ll get this silly smile—like there is a joke only she knows—and I hope that Lucy made her smile. I hope the tears as she sleeps is not her mourning, but am sure that the giggles are Lucy. Syd knew when Lucy was dying … I have no doubt that she knows Lucy existed. When Syd sleeps in the car, sometimes I see Lucy’s face in hers … an overlay in the reflection as we zip down the highway going to and from nowhere in particular. It’s only then …it makes my heart skip a beat.
So when this cricket was waiting on the roof of our car as we returned from Sam’s, I knew it had to be Lucy coming for a visit. I mean really! Crickets in October? The guilt set in. Was she coming by to remind me that I hadn’t been to visit in a while … that I drive by her grave often enough … the voice of a nagging Jewish mother, “What, it’d kill you to come and visit every so often?” No, Scot assured me. She was just visiting. Hanging with the family on a nice, quiet October afternoon. Enjoying being together, reveling in Sydney’s smiles and new moves and character. Just being with us.
It was nice. I hope she comes by again soon.