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.