5 Unexpected Gifts from Deceased Loved Ones

Still hurting from the loss of their beloved family members, they found comfort when least expected. 

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- Posted on Aug 26, 2020

Illustration of angels in a music box

…And the Music Plays On by Barbara Perry

We were devastated when my son Randy died at age 60 from cancer. Randy left behind a wife and two children, as well as his brother and me. On the day we all gathered at the house to plan his memorial service, Randy’s wife brought over the beautiful angel music box I’d once given to her. “You keep it now,” she said, “in remembrance of Randy.”

We set the music box on the coffee table, next to Randy’s picture. His daughter turned it on, and through tears we reminisced about the good times. No matter how many years passed, Randy had remained a kid at heart. He loved to make much of my loud sneezes. “Mom, you sneeze louder than a lumberjack!” he’d say, grinning. This got to be a running joke in my family, and any time I braced for a sneeze, we all got ready for a big laugh.

With the planning and those hard days after the memorial, I didn’t even think to turn on the music box. The angels sat quietly on the coffee table beside Randy’s photograph, but I never forgot him for a minute. One day, sitting alone on the couch, I felt one of my famous sneezes coming on. I looked at Randy’s picture and imagined him gearing up to make his lumberjack joke.

My sneeze wouldn’t have disappointed him. I think it might have been the loudest ever. And with my lumberjack explosion, the music box played! It was as if the angels agreed with Randy and wouldn’t be quiet about it. I’ve never turned on the music box myself, but it plays when I sneeze so Randy can send me a good-natured laugh from heaven.

A Delicate Assurance by Paula Dyer

I grabbed my pearl necklace to finish off my work outfit and walked out the door in a rush, as usual. It wasn’t until I got behind the wheel of my car that I realized what day it was—June 12, the anniversary of my mother’s death.

Mom had passed away when I was in my early twenties. In all the years that followed, some things got easier for me, and others harder. I could remember Mom without getting sad, but I missed her gentle way, her wise advice. She hadn’t been around for so much of my adult life.

Nearing the office, I wondered, Does she think of me? Does she know how I’m doing? I tried to summon up the happy times. We had always shared a love of jewelry, and I had several pieces of hers that I wore to keep her close. I wished I’d thought to put something of hers on this morning, and I was sorry I’d dressed in such a hurry.

I parked in the car lot at work and reached for my purse. Something flashed in the rearview mirror. I straightened in the driver’s seat to take a closer look. Around my neck was a piece of jewelry that I never wore. Never. It was too delicate, too sentimental. A thin silver necklace with a tiny heart-shaped pendant. I held it up to the mirror to see the smallest pink rose painted on it. A perfect necklace for today. The very first piece of jewelry my mother had gotten for me when I was born.

The Dragonfly’s Directions by Joan Sims

My husband, Craig, was my number one fan when it came to my insect photography, especially the ones I took of the dragonflies that congregated around our neighbor’s pond about half a mile from our house. The dragonflies didn’t visit our yard, so I went to them. The best days were when Craig came with me. Shortly after he died, I noticed that one particular dragonfly seemed to be watching me. It sat on a blade of grass while I worked. As the weeks passed, my dragonfly kept me company at the pond.

One morning I went out to tend to my flowers in the yard before the sun got too hot. I was almost done watering them when a yellow jacket buzzed right up around my face. I froze. I’d been stung on the arm by a yellow jacket once and needed a steroid shot to bring down the painful swelling. I shuddered. Lord, not again.

Suddenly a glistening blue object whirred in front of me. The dragonfly had swooped in and chased the yellow jacket away. My dragonfly angel had made the trip from the pond. No doubt Craig had told him where we lived.

My Soft Place to Fall by Annette McDermott

Sobs wracked my body as I collapsed into a recliner. It had been a difficult couple of months, and this latest disappointment had put me over the edge. I’d never felt so alone with my problems. In the past I’d turned to my grandparents, especially Granddaddy, my mother’s father. Right up until his death, he’d been there for me—my soft place to fall. More than anything I missed his strong, reassuring hugs. I wish I could feel his arms around me right now, I thought as my eyes grew heavy. Exhausted, I fell asleep…

…And into a deep dream. I was standing outside my grandparents’ house, the one they lived in when I was a child. I walked inside. Everywhere I looked evoked another memory. Singing hymns in the kitchen with Grandma as she grated cabbage for coleslaw. Granddaddy walking through the back door carrying buckets full of fresh-picked vegetables from his garden. Me sitting on a tall metal stool at the dining room table, a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes with heavenly homemade gravy before me.

I came to the landing of a narrow stairwell and looked up. It was dark, but a dim light glowed through the bottom of a closed door at the top of the stairs. I slowly ascended, each stair creaking slightly from my weight. With every step I took, the light under the door intensified and I knew something wonderful awaited me. At the top I reached for the doorknob, but the door opened on its own. Granddaddy smiled and opened his arms, beckoning me into his gentle embrace. My cheek rested against his leather pocket protector, and I breathed in the familiar smell of his Old Spice cologne. I held him with all my might, the way I knew he held me in his heart forever.

I woke up with an otherworldly calmness. The weight of my problems had lightened in the warmth of that everlasting hug—because I wasn’t ever really alone to begin with.

Never Far Away by Judith Behr

My mother’s last moments in this life were peaceful. She held her favorite Blessed Mother medal as we prayed together, just like when I was a little girl and we would go to weekly Mass. I kept it to remind me that she would always be near. But a few days after the funeral, I realized I’d misplaced it. I was beside myself. How could I have been so careless with something so important? I dumped out my purse, unmade the bed, checked every pocket. Down on my knees searching the sofa pillows, I dropped my head in my hands. Mom, I miss you so much. As I got up, something under the recliner caught my eye. Her medal! It would stay with me, just like she would.

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