WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
A lot of people believe that our lost loved ones are still with us. That they watch over us like a guardian angel. (A great movie about this was Always with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter.) Others say the dead are still with us. (Witness the popularity of the films such as Ghost and The Sixth Sense.)
Some see what seem to be signs they believe are sent by or on behalf of their loved one, or by a supreme being. Examples are a butterfly, bluebird or dragonfly appearing at a crucial moment. I had a bizarre cloud experience myself. Our family saw two double rainbows from our porch the week after we lost Doug. (However, we did not react like this guy.)
Many religions espouse the philosophy that the dead are resurrected, reincarnated (possibly as a bug), or that their spirit sticks around somehow. Some bereaved can feel the presence of a lost loved one. Some even report hallucinations - seeing, hearing or smelling the departed. If you tell this to people who have not had such an experience, they will probably think you are whacked. So what? You know what you experienced.
I respect the beliefs of others (unless they are clearly insane.) I don't want to burst anyone else's bubble if it works for them and helps them. I'm just not sure what I believe. I don't profess to know what happens after we die. I find it hard to fathom that we just go out - poof - like an extinguished candle flame. If you believe the First Law of Thermodynamics, energy can be transformed but not destroyed. So maybe the energy that is life persists in some form.
We may very much WISH and hope that it were true that the departed are not completely lost to us - that they are still with us. However, my best guess is that it is most likely wishful thinking. The skeptic in me says what appear to be signs are probably a natural, human inclination to try to make sense out of a senseless world. Random, serendipitous coincidences that we use in our search for meaning. We are trying to put a handle on a hot pot. Or because our lives have suddenly spun out of control, we search for meaning in meaningless events (a phenomenon dubbed "Patternicity.")
Of course we don't WANT our loved ones to be gone forever, and to be forever inaccessible. We wish they could still be a part of what is happening in our lives after they are gone, so they could:
With few exceptions, I usually don't feel that Doug is near. I feel like he is far far away. Lost to me forever. I am in a Doug Desert and I miss him terribly. That is the source of most of my pain. On the other hand, I DO feel that Doug is a part of me. Knowing and loving and living with him changed me. The love lives on. And I can still hear his voice in my head. Telling me to get outside and enjoy the outdoors on a nice day. Get some exercise. Don't try to sneak recyclables in the trash. Laughing. (Thank goodness I have a few videos of him talking and goofing around.) And nothing but dementia or Alzheimer's can take all of the memories away.
Some people DO leave an actual legacy that keeps on living and giving. Through their service to others, they made the world a better place. They may have donated organs or tissues that offer life and healing to others. They donate or protect open space for future generations. They leave us books, music, poems or other works of art that we can continue to enjoy. They put up bluebird nestboxes that continue to fill the skies with blue.
Maybe the best legacy of all is when we learn something from the way they lived or lost their lives that changes us forever. That in itself means they are still with us. At least it does to me.
PS: Their ability to watch us could also be weird/icky/guilt-inducing. For example, could they see you taking a dump? Could they see their spouse dating or sleeping with someone new? Or do they only watch over us when it's convenient for us?
PPS The day after I wrote the above, I received another "sign." Friend-neighbor J sent me a Double Rainbow "What does it mean" T-shirt (spawned by the OMG YouTube Double Rainbow video.) It was my first laugh of the day.
(Note that real double rainbows seen by people NOT on drugs look different - the outer or secondary bows' colors are reversed, with the dark "Alexander's band" between the bows.)
I think I will wear it during the Deary Memorial Road Race that Doug and I had planned to walk together (since he was going to have his arm duct-taped to his body after shoulder dislocation shoulder that had been planned for June 22 - the reason he went in for a full physical the day before we lost him.)
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