My mom reminded me the other day that the priest who said my grandfather’s funeral Mass told us to “be watching… he’s going to be sending you signs.” Graham sent his mother a sign before we’d even left the hospital. Georgia welcomed us home with hers.

The hours we spent holding these babies after their births were full of pride, love and wonder. Our nurse, Mary, took pictures as we marveled at how perfect each baby was. Every piece of these little puzzles had been put in its right place. The only thing against them was timing, and hours after Georgia’s birth time was turning against us too: at 4 am not even Graham’s tiny bit of fuzzy white hair or Georgia’s long fingers could keep us conscious. Sonya dozed off with an assist from the pain meds in her IV; I rolled around on a fold-out hospital couch while time passed, which I guess is technically sleep.

At one point I woke in a position that faced directly toward Sonya’s hospital bed, and even without my glasses I could tell she was looking straight at me too. “I had a dream Graham opened his eyes,” she said.

Babies don’t open their eyes in the womb; they’re sealed shut for protection. And Graham was born unresponsive; officially, neither his eyes nor any of his senses took in this world. In the dream, he opened his eyes – the windows to the soul – for his mother. We collapsed in each other’s arms. Our boy had opened his eyes.

It wasn’t until we got home Thursday, to a hungry cat and a familiar bed, that Sonya told me another part of the dream: Graham had not only opened his eyes, he had talked. “I love you, mama,” said her son.


Georgia’s sign was more subtle. This was a slight surprise, as she’d declared herself a brave, defiant little soul by literally exploding out of the womb – her water didn’t break until Sonya’s last push (this caused our poor nurse to scream in fright) and she gave us several cries and movements before her little lungs gave out. Even then, her heart kept steady time for almost an hour while her mother ran a hand across her smooth little forehead. What kind of sign does such a free spirit give from the next life?

Years before we met, Sonya took a summer camp job in Colorado. During lunch one day, a hummingbird had found its way inside the building, and in trying to fly back out, it had somehow gotten stuck in the glass panes of the open window. As they pulled the panicked bird out, she realized it needed a moment of calm before it would be ready to fly free again. She put it in her hand, on its back, and held it for a short, short moment before it went on its way.

We spent Thursday night at home, but mentally we were still at the hospital. So when we woke Friday we made a point to keep our minds and bodies busy with a long walk into town. Two hours and lots of tears later we were back home, and we decided to take a lap around our own yard before heading inside.

“Quick – look,” Sonya said, pointing at something moving among the row of pine trees running alongside our house. “We’ve never had a hummingbird here before.” We watched it fly up toward the tops of the trees and something told me instantly who’d sent it. We’d held her on her way from one world and now we would see her fly to the next. Our free spirit was free again.

Thank you, dreamer. Thank you, hummingbird.