Perhaps some of you are familiar with the Blue Collar Comedy crew: Jeff Foxworthy et al. One of my favorite bits is Bill Engvall’s “Here’s your sign.” It’s the punch line he uses after telling a joke about some stupid thing somebody did – a reference to his suggestion that stupid people ought to have to wear a sign so that we’d know better than to ask them for help or advice. If you’ve never seen Bill Engvall, you might want to spend the three minutes it takes to watch this YouTube clip before reading any further. My story will make a lot more sense if you do.
I’ve been working on the inaugural issue of a monthly newsletter for The Deep Water Leaf Society. (Sign up to receive your own copy here.) Along with a short article or two, I thought it would be nice each month to highlight a book or a person or some other kind of resource that could help people journey through their grief. For this first issue, I wanted to highlight Jamie Clark, the medium I write about in my book. I am so grateful for the session I had with him about a year after my son Cameron’s death and I know that he could help others to find peace as well. So I arranged to have a brief phone interview with him a few days ago.
We spoke for about 30 minutes. As I tried to ask Jamie pertinent interview questions, like when he first knew he had a gift and how long he’s been doing readings for people, Cameron kept butting in (through Jamie) with various comments and things he wanted me to know. It was nice to know Cameron was around, and it was good to hear the things he had to say. For instance, that he’d be there to help my Dad (who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease) cross over when the time comes. That was something I’d been asking of him for some time. But it was kind of hard to keep the flow of the interview going smoothly as Jamie would pop up with these things from Cameron every couple of minutes.
We also talked a little about my own abilities to tune into messages from Cameron and how I tend to dismiss so much of what comes to me. I confided to Jamie that I hadn’t felt as connected to Cameron recently and that even my dream state had been changing and becoming rather more chaotic and rather less clearly helpful than usual. Jamie assured me that the connection was still there and that I just needed to get out of my own way.
Toward the end of our conversation, Jamie said, “There’s going to be a validation coming soon. It’s going to be a sign and it’s going to involve a butterfly. So watch for that.”
I made a mental note, but I kind of dismissed it because usually Cameron speaks to me through dreams or through music or through heart shaped shells and stones. Butterflies have not been, or at least have not seemed to be, one of the signs he gives me.
After our phone call, I had to get busy preparing for a book selling event coming up the next day. I needed to print some flyers and gather some props for the table I’d be setting up. I wanted to display a copy of the recent newspaper article that featured me and my book. I had a copy mounted on a piece of foam core board, but I needed an easel to prop it up.
The image of a small wooden easel that I have popped into my mind. That would work perfectly. I had just had that easel in my hands a few weeks ago. I had taken it down from the picture it held on the fireplace mantel to use it for something else. I could not for the life of me remember what that something else was.
“Think, Claire, think,” I exhorted myself. “You just had it in your hands. What did you do with it?” It drives me crazy when I can’t remember what I did with something, and it seems to be happening more and more often as I get older. “Come on, Stupid, what did you do with it?”
I remembered that I had been cleaning and reorganizing the living room when I’d taken the easel down from the mantel in the family room. I’d wanted to use it for something in the living room. But what? I went into the living room and looked all around—end tables, bookshelves, the china cabinet in the adjoining dining room. “What did I use if for?”
I didn’t see it anywhere and I had no clue what I’d wanted it for. I gave up in frustration. I decided to go to Staple’s and get the paper stock I needed for my flyers. Maybe they’d have an easel there that would work, although it galled me to think of buying a new one when I had a perfectly good one somewhere around here.
A short time later, leaving the store with my paper goods, I realized I’d forgotten to look for an easel while I was in the store. I was feeling rushed and frazzled as it was already evening and I still had to print the flyers. “Never mind,” I thought. “I’ll just find some other way to stand the stupid article up.”
Driving home, it suddenly occurred to me: I’d used the wooden easel to stand a beaded ceramic butterfly up on my bookshelves. The butterfly is so large that the easel isn’t really visible behind it. I’d looked right at it and it just hadn’t connected. Then I remembered what Jamie had said about a sign coming up with a butterfly.
I could hear Bill Engvall’s country accented voice saying, “Here’s your sign!”
I laughed all the way home, a deep belly laughter the likes of which I haven’t enjoyed in a very long time.
Thanks, Cameron. Thanks, Jamie. I needed that!
Wishing you peace on the journey. . .