Monday, May 24, 2010

My Sister, Tabitha, Said Hello to Me Today...

My sister said hello to me today. I haven’t heard from her in a while. She died Memorial Day weekend in 1996. She left behind a husband and two baby girls. Those baby girls are almost grown now—her oldest graduates from high school this year and her youngest is right behind her big sister. They’re both beautiful and smart and loving, and we can see my sister in their smiles. In their eyes. She’s there.

It was so great to hear from her.

The phone rang. It wasn’t my sister. It was my friend, Michelle, who works at Bonanza High School in Las Vegas. She got an email from the band director who sent a school-wide query in regard to a ring he’d found. It was a class ring from Western High School, where my sister and I attended, from the year 1987. The inscription on the inside read, “Tabitha J. Arrowood.” Michelle asked me if Tab had ever been in the Bonanza High School band room. (Honestly, it was anybody’s guess.) Of course, my friend emailed the band director immediately and said, “I know that family! I’ll come get that ring.” She’s sending it to me in tomorrow’s mail.

I put my head in my hands and cried when I hung up the phone with her. I was literally shaking. The way I figured it, this ring had been missing for years and, by some miracle, had suddenly reappeared just in time for her oldest daughter’s graduation. What a treasure! My sister seemed to be saying to her girls, “I’m here. I’m watching. I’m proud of you. Here’s a little piece of me.” I would hold her ring to my heart, wear it on my hand for a day, and then send this precious gift to my nieces.

I called their parents right away—yes, their parents. God sent a wonderful mother to my nieces and wife for my brother-in-law when the girls were still small, and we are so grateful. They’ve blessed us with two more children who are just as beautiful and smart and loving as the older two. However, they were not AS bowled over as I was. You see, I was under the impression that my nieces went to Valley High. As it turns out, the oldest does go to Valley since she is in their magnet program. Their youngest goes to Bonanza. And she’s in the color guard, which means she is in the band room at Bonanza all the time.

The pieces of this puzzle were quickly coming together.

I had assumed that my sister was looking down from Heaven and orchestrating this beautiful miracle of a long, lost ring—a gift that her girls would cherish. But that was not the case. She was, in fact, taking care of her youngest (albeit long-distance) who had taken the ring to school with her and accidentally dropped it, by not allowing her ring to be lost. She prevented such inevitable guilt and devastation that the loss of that ring would bring—falling on the shoulders of her sweet girl, who only wanted to hold a piece of her mother and keep this token close to her heart. Imagine the dread that could have ensued! She’s a good mother.

And yet, Tabitha is taking care of me too. Because her ring will be on it’s way to me tomorrow. I will place that gold circle around my finger and wear it this Memorial Day weekend—the very weekend she left us. When the holiday is over, and I have cried and remembered and centered my heart once more, I will put it in a box and send it back to my nieces for safe keeping with a note expressing my deepest gratitude that I have gotten to share this ring with them.

But mostly, I think Tabitha is letting us know how happy she is that we are all together, loving each other, and being grateful for the little miracles that seem to come out of nowhere.

And it really was great to hear from her. I’ll be checking the mailbox every day.