I found out a good friend passed away today. She was hit by a drunk driver. A life so young taken away so abruptly and tragically. A daughter, a mother, and an amazing soul that gave so much to the world and could have given so much more if given more time. We say rest in peace to the loved ones lost but nothing can ever express how that loss has left us in pieces. We tell ourselves that they are in a better place, but deep down inside, you know they shouldn’t have left for that destination so soon.
I was having a conversation about lost loved ones the other day with a friend. She said her deceased cousin leaves her signs that she’s not alone whenever she’s going through something overwhelming. She calls these experiences tender mercies—signs and gestures of comfort and reassurance sent to us by loved ones that have passed away and moved on. She says some people don’t even notice the tender mercies their loved ones send, and in those instances that they do, they write them off as mere coincidence. But occasionally you can’t deny what you just saw or experienced—in that moment, you can’t deny the existence of tender mercies.
“Some people see objects—they find pebbles in weird places, they see hearts everywhere they look, flowers that are out of season blooming and much more—I see butterflies. That’s my tender mercy,” she says.
“My cousin and I used to catch them when we were kids. We would trample over flower beds and knock over potted plants as we leapt into the air with cupped hands. Once they were gently cradled in the palms of our hands, we would take a quick peek and then release. We used to play this game every summer till that last one when she fell ill and passed away. And since then, whenever I’m alone or going through so much, I see butterflies everywhere. I’ve seen them in swarms and sometimes alone. There are times I think it’s coincidence, but how do you explain a lone butterfly flapping across the snow in the middle of winter? I can’t explain it, but there is a feeling that comes over me. It’s a feeling of comfort and protection, well-being and peace of mind.”
I shrug my shoulders, not because I don’t believe her, but because the part of me that wants to conflicts with the part of me that doesn’t—I’m a skeptic. Or perhaps I’m in denial. I experienced something once. It’s a story I don’t share with many, and an encounter with a lost loved one I’m still trying to understand. But maybe that’s a story for another day—a different chapter buried inside the pages of my next book.
I don’t know if I believe in after-death communication. But assuming it is real, if I left this earth tomorrow, who would I come back to? Who would my spirit be drawn to in their moment of need and worry, heartache and sorrow? What personalized signs would I put in front of my loved ones to let them know I was there and everything is going to be okay? What gestures of affection and hope would I present to them in their moment of hopelessness? Would it be a touch, a smell or a whisper? Would it be in a photo, a dream, or a vision? Perhaps I’ll appear as an apparition or move things, but that would only scare them. Perhaps I’ll speak to them telepathically from the heavens, but they might think it’s simply their subconscious telling them what they want to hear. But regardless, I’m certain I’ll be there as long as those that love and miss me keep in their hearts.
Sincerely, Kwapi Vengesayi
This is an excerpt from Kwapi Vengesayi‘s book, Love Is Work: Hashtags About Love, Life, and Everything in Between (2014) Available on Amazon