A garage sale find turned out to be a message from her mother.
- Posted on Jan 24, 2020
“Please help, Mom,” I whispered. “Show me that everything’s going to be okay.” It was a quiet Wednesday night, and I was in bed, trying to fall asleep. My husband, PJ, was already asleep beside me. The past three months had been hard for us. It all started when a terrible flu triggered a mysterious pain in my right side. It continued to worsen by the day. Is this the beginning of the end? I wondered. Am I going to meet the same fate as my mother?
I’d lost my mom, Anita, to ALS when I was 24 years old. Her diagnosis came out of nowhere. Her decline was rapid and brutal. She went from fine one day to slurring her words the next. Coughing, choking, muscle weakness and weight loss quickly followed. I’d watched my strong, selfless mother—a pillar of our church community—wither away. Now I feared some illness would take me away from my own children, just as ALS had taken her from me. My son, Brent, was only 15. And Carleigh was barely eight. How would they and PJ get along without me?
I rubbed my aching abdomen and thought about the countless doctor visits, scans and ultrasounds I’d undergone over the past few months. No one could tell us what was wrong. I had yet another test—a gallbladder scan—scheduled with a gastroenterologist the following morning. I hoped it would give us some kind of clue. Emotionally exhausted, I drifted off to sleep with Mom on my mind and a prayer in my heart.
The next morning, I kissed PJ goodbye and promised to let him know how the appointment went. He came with me when he could but had to go into the office that day. Halfway through the scan, I asked if anything looked abnormal.
“We aren’t allowed to say,” the tech said. “You’ll have to ask your doctor.”
Probably just another inconclusive test, I thought.
Walking to my car, I was frustrated. I was in too much pain for all of this to be nothing. Even if the news was bad, I wanted to know what was going on so my family could prepare our next steps.
On the drive home, a sign caught my eye: GARAGE SALE TODAY. On a Thursday? I love garage sales and flea markets. You never know what you’ll find. I’ll stop by for a few minutes, I thought. Maybe it’ll help me get my mind off all of this.
I pulled up to three tables covered in treasures. “Hello,” I said to the man out front. “You don’t usually see garage sales in the middle of the week!”
He shrugged. “I was cleaning the garage and decided to put out a sign.”
I looked across the spread of items—glass, lamps, old holiday decorations. A ceramic bunny with big eyes caught my attention. I picked her up and smiled. “This reminds me of my mother,” I told the man. Mom had gone to ceramics classes for years and loved it. She was always making and painting gifts like this for friends and neighbors. “How much?”
I paid him and began walking back to my car. Easter was just weeks away, and this little guy would look great on our mantel. I’m so glad I decided to stop, I thought. The sale had cheered me up a bit. I turned the bunny over in my hands, spotting a signature. My heart stopped. Was I seeing things? It couldn’t be! But there it was, scrawled on the underside of the bunny in my mother’s neat script: Anita 74. I stumbled, falling to my knees.
“Are you all right?” The man came running down the driveway toward me. “What’s wrong?”
I was in shock. “Where…where did you get this bunny?”
The man looked bewildered. “It belonged to my mother-in-law. She got it as a gift from a friend one Easter.”
As we talked, we realized that his in-laws had been my neighbors when I was growing up. This little bunny had been a neighborly gift from Mom some 30 years ago. I held myself together just long enough to get back to the car. Then I shut the door and started sobbing, the bunny clasped in my hand. I’d been given the perfect gift. Finding this bunny felt as if Mom were comforting me from heaven. A sense of peace filled me, and I knew that no matter what happened it was going to be okay.
Thankfully, that last test showed the problem was with my gallbladder. I had it removed and was soon back to normal. The ceramic bunny now has a permanent spot in our living room. When I’m curled up on the sofa sometimes, I glance at the bunny and smile, knowing Mom’s spirit is with me, sent by God to comfort me in my most difficult moment.
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