Saturday, July 17, 2010

Feathers and Faith...

When you see me fly away without you

Shadow on the things you know

Feathers fall around you
And show you the way to go….
- Neil Young
Anyone who's read my blog at all knows that I struggle with my faith. But now let me tell you why I have a hard time NOT believing in something. And trust me, this story is going to test your faith in me.
Today is July 17th, Vince’s birthday. Vince was my first love, my high school through college sweetheart. I was positive I’d marry him and we’d spend our lives together. But Vince had a painful past that he couldn’t overcome, even though he really tried. His mother had died of alcoholism when he was little, then his black-out drunk father lost custody of the two boys. Vince and his brother Chris were bounced through the foster care system throughout their childhood. When I met him, he had just been adopted at sixteen years old by a nice family.
Things started out bright between us. We were so close, as though we had grown up together all our lives. I can’t explain the bond, but I believe he saved me during a very dark time in my life. Vince was sweet, outgoing, smart, well-liked by everyone, a great tennis player, a big music lover. Above all he had a huge, loving heart. He was looking forward to a new beginning with his adoptive family. But his foster mom didn’t want him there. The Dad had made the decision to adopt Vince, and the mom resented him. Vince tried to win her love, but it was hopeless. And my love wasn’t enough to heal him. After a couple years he spun into a cycle of self-destruction, alcohol and cocaine, that I couldn’t stop. Eventually, I had to get out. We split for good in 1983.
Years later, I was devastated to learn that Vince died from an enlarged heart. He was twenty-nine years old. An enlarged heart….his heart always was too big for this world.
In 2002, on the eve before my first fundraiser for foster kids, Vince appeared to me in a dream that wasn’t a dream. He was there, I could hear his voice in the room. I could see the detail on his clothing. He gave Troy a hug, and told him to take care of me, and that he’d be watching me from “over there”. He was healthy and happy. I was sobbing happy tears. It was an amazing, truly indescribable experience.
All that year as I was working on launching an arts program for foster kids, I felt Vince at my back, and in my house. Strange things were happening. Lights would flicker on and off. The ceiling fan would start to spin on its own. Pennies would drop out of the air. My kids were getting freaked out. My daughter was in High School at the time, and she was not pleased about this intrusion. I remember one night she was screaming from downstairs, “Mom! Your dead boyfriend is in my room! Get him out!!” Teenagers can be so moody….
But the very strangest thing happened one night as I was laying in bed in the dark, trying to fall asleep but thinking about Vince’s death. I was listening to a song “The Long Day is Over” by Norah Jones, thinking Vince must have felt that way when he passed, when all of a sudden my computer turned on, then my AOL signed on by itself, without me entering a password or anything. It said “Hello! You’ve Got Mail!” I just lied there in my bed, paralyzed. When the song was over, AOL signed itself off, and said “Goodbye”. I defy any computer geek out there to explain that one to me.
Even though these crazy things were happening, I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t. It was too …I don’t know….unbelievable. But these strange events and coincidences kept coming. So I read a book by John Edward, a famous medium. He said to ask your loved one for a sign, something specific, to let you know if they are around. So I thought of a feather. But not just any feather. Not a pigeon or sparrow. Too common. It had to be a black feather. That’s pretty rare.
That very night we had friends over for dinner. My friend Lynn, who is a Jewish atheist and doesn’t believe in anything hippy-dippy, brought me a hostess gift, some beautiful stationary tied with a ribbon. On the top she had tied a black feather. She said, “I don’t know why I put that feather on there, it just seemed like you.”
Okay. So that was a really, really weird coincidence. In all the years I’ve received gifts, never has anyone tied a feather on top. But still I couldn’t believe it. Then I started finding them everywhere. On my car, in the street. And one morning my cat greeted me carrying a huge 10-inch black feather in his mouth. He’s an indoor cat! And still I thought, what a weird coincidence.
A few weeks later my husband Troy and I were hiking in the mountains. Troy was about to get on a plane that day, the first time he’d flown since the 9/11 disaster. I was stressed about it, worried and crying. Troy was trying to reassure me when saw something glittering in the dirt.
“Look… a good luck charm,” he said.
He bent down to pick it up, and lo and behold it was sitting next to a big black feather. I thought it was a poptop from a tin can. It was all encrusted in mud, but as he dusted it off, I was stunned. There he held in his hand a diamond infinity ring. In the middle of freekin nowhere, up in the mountains.
“See? This is a sign…” Troy said. “You never have to worry.”
Troy slipped the ring onto my finger, and it’s been there ever since. Now….can anyone explain this? I mean, I’m as skeptical as the next guy, but this was pretty hard to shrug off.
But I figure, I mean, if I have a guardian angel who’s dropping jewelry from the sky, I shouldn’t question it, right?
I believe…
I believe…


  1. I believe in fate. And for some reason your fate was to find signs from wherever they come from and become what they need to be for you. I lost my best friend after 42 years of friendship. I see her everyday somewhere. In someone who looks like her, talks like her, reminds me of her and of course in her grown children. I like coincidences or are they really. You are on a journey and I bet Vince being there was something you needed at the time. Keep sharing-I love it.

  2. The beauty of belief is that you can believe whatever you choose. It doesn't have to be dictated to you by a book or an orator or a religion. It is exactly what YOU choose. You believed in Vince when he was alive and you believe in him now that he is gone. A feather is the lightest "load" and it can also lift into the air and fly. Your story is beautiful and heartening.

    My beloved father-in-law died when my youngest daughter was 9 months old, leaving us all stricken. On my daughter's first birthday, in the middle of the night, a handcrafted and quite huge pendulum clock that he gave us literally flew off the wall and landed with a thud, completely intact (when it should have shattered). The time on the clock stopped at the exact minute of our daughter's birth. We believed.


  3. I have an all wood handmade grandfather clock that had a history with my father. When he died I had the craftsman who made it come to my Dad's house and move the clock to mine. The sound that the clock makes is like a heartbeat and reminds me of my Dad. One day after I had the clock for a few weeks the glass covering the works had a crack in it. That clock never had any issues before except once when my son broke off one of the pendulums by hitting it with a football. It has never had a crack. I think it was from my Dad telling me he had a crack in his heart.


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