Years after my son died, a neighbor gave me a statue, saying she felt compelled to. I always had it displayed--because the statue looked ironically like Zeke, my angel baby. I anchored myself by pretending his presence lingered in the statue even though his body had died. And I went a lot of years, imagining he was there, experiencing our joys, triumphs, even our tragedies. But he wasn't there, and when the statue broke several years later, I felt my own fortitude crumble as well.
In 2015, I remarried and the kids and I moved to Idaho with my husband. After a few months had passed, I still didn't feel like I belonged in a place so different from my hometown. So much had changed, and Zeke's statue was no longer there to weather the journey of life with me.
In February, 2016, I walked toward my house and prayed that God would give me a sign that we should be there--in down-to-earth Idaho. My house rested almost a mile up a hill, and the cold air stiffened my lungs. But I didn't think about the cold; I feared what change would bring--and remembered how hard it is losing memorabilia that keeps us strong.
A couple of minutes later, as I ascended the last road's bend before my house, I glanced to the left and spotted a tiny stone statue, shaded by a pine tree. I froze, completely stunned by an exact replica of Zeke and a statue I'd had for so many years before.
I can't tell you how much peace this coincidence has given me--for nearly three years. Today, on Zeke's sixteenth birthday, I sat down and told my family again about the statue. "It's like he's still here, watching over us."
My little boy frowned with concern, obviously not wanting to tell me something. "Mama," he finally whispered, "I look at that statue every day when we go by it. You know, it's been gone since Monday."
"Seriously?" I said. And for some damn reason tears filled my eyes. "But it felt like he was watching over us. It really did. We have to go look! Will you go with me?"
As we got in the car, I wiped my face and continued babbling. "I can't believe it's gone--the same week as his birthday."
So, we drove slowly out of our driveway, and my husband kept concernedly glancing at me.
It only took a second to drive to the neighbor's house. "Oh my gosh," my daughter said. "The statue is gone, but look!"
I covered my mouth and gasped. "They replaced it...with a statue of a man? He looks young!"
After a moment, I turned to Mike, seriously not knowing what to say.
"I have to admit," he said, "it is awfully strange that happened the week of his sixteenth birthday."
Each of my kids' eyes widened.