The penultimate text from the hospice social worker said, “I hope (if you believe in this), she will send you signs.”

I’ve been looking. Waiting. Would my sister send a sign? There have been three now.

Friday was my first trip up to Salem alone in a while and for some reason I was filled with dread.

I needn’t have been, for my sister made her presence felt right away when a solar powered lantern went on. Poof. Just like that! My sister got it for herself at Christmas and even though it’s been plainly visible for three months, not once have I seen it lit. Hi, Noreen.

The second sign came in the form of four turkeys: two strutting by themselves, one squished dead on the side of the road, and the fourth roosting in a tree up the street in the gloaming.

The first turkey showed up during Finn’s and my morning walk. Nothing unusual, though I was a little surprised that it was alone.

But then, a second bird in Peabody — also alone. I’ve never seen one on the North Shore.

My tingly-sense was activated.

Almost an hour later as I neared home, I saw the dead one. It was crumpled up against the guardrails dividing Route Nine, feet sticking straight up in the air. The glorious feathers in a heap. I gasped.

I’ve seen dead geese, squirrels, rabbits, cats, blue jays and skunks, but not once have I ever come across a dead turkey. It was heart breaking.

But later, just before full dark, I took Finn around the block and spied the fourth turkey — way up in the branches of a maple tree. On my street. I was stunned. I’ve only seen roosting birds one other time and it was an entire flock.

The thing was part shadow, part creature, its presence both spooky and majestic. Hallowed. Sent.

Lastly, today I came across a stack of box lids — the last things in my sister’s hall closet. I planned on keeping them because they make wonderful sorting trays for paper, which is why I was a little surprised that these were empty. Oh, but wait.

In the stack, folded up, was a map of Italy! Can you believe it? This last piece of ephemera came as a gratifying benediction, one week after reserving plane tickets to Rome.

Even though my travels over the years stirred up my sister’s anxieties, I know that she’d be thrilled on my behalf about this trip.

I have the map to prove it.

20 thoughts on “Signs

  1. Michael

    Your posts convey so much, in such spare prose. Glad to see your sister’s presence filling your life – in a cheery way.

    1. deemallon Post author

      You’re quite the wordsmith, so I’ll take that as high praise (I’m curious about “rage quitting” for instance in your latest post. It was just tossed in there. Great phrase).

      1. Michael

        Please do – you write wonderfully. I’d been working 10h days as a dishwasher, in a chronically understaffed silent kitchen (no talking, making noise). I felt I’d been misled about the job, so I quit w/o notice.

  2. Nancy

    Wow! How cool is that?! She seems to be smoothing the edges of her own passing, so you may move forward into a new phase of your beautiful life 🙂
    Wonderful post xo

    1. deemallon Post author

      Who knows? If I believe anything, it’s that she is not limited now the way she was in life.

  3. Michelle Slater

    I opened the post in a mild dread…but it was compelling. I got tingly as we progressed through the signs, deeply sad for the dead one and elated but worried about the roosting one (likely the dead one was it’s mate…though I don’t think they’re monogamous. They were probably displaced from where they aught to be by some disturbance. The photos are evocative. The banger conclusion was a thrill.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Your dread tells me to limit more of my personal musings to private pages. I don’t want to instill dread in anyone!

  4. ravenandsparrow

    When the surface world cracks and the richness of the unknown seeps through it is both comforting and miraculous.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Yes. Comforting and miraculous. So much we don’t understand in our day to day business.

  5. Nanette

    I’m glad you had a social worker who was comfortable talking about signs, in my 30+ years as a social worker I said similar quite a few times. All the signs made me tingly, but the map stood my hair on end. Way to go Noreen, such glee from her.

    1. deemallon Post author

      Me too. The map really was quite something else! As much as her anxiety would’ve gotten in the way, she also would’ve helped me make wardrobe choices, insist I get a hair cut, make food suggestions etc.

      1. Nanette

        A biter sweet time then, getting organised to go. I’m sure she’ll be happy to help from spirit, if you ask.


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