Pennies from Heaven
A message from the beyond. It may seem like a spooky subject this time of year -- but to me, they are a constant sign of love and energy surrounding me like spirit guides along this life journey. Many charismatic individuals have symbols that represent them. For me, it is my red lipstick and an abundance of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels or a good silk scarf. I get messages and notes from friends and family saying they caught a glimpse of one of those monikers and conjured images of me. It is a beautiful point of love and connection. Binding us regardless of space or time. For my niece Tilly it was ladybugs (a symbol of luck in German culture), Flamingos (a nod to her favorite color), and Rainbows - which she was obsessed with almost immediately upon opening her big blue eyes.
When Tilly was in the NICU we used these symbols as a sign of solidarity. A way to celebrate her life and fight. We had "Flamingo Fridays" in the NICU during which times Tilly's nurses would don her Flamingo custom-made sheets (made with love by grandma) with matching outfits of course and pose next to the neon pink Flamingo light that Auntie Coco had the twin of. Then the family would send photos back with their flamingo paraphernalia. While it may seem morose to some to exchange pictures during a pandemic lockdown with a child in the NICU, the effect was quite the opposite. It was a celebration - a point of connection. A symbol of love we could all rally around.
These personal monikers act as a tether between those we love even after we have lost them. During life, it is important to celebrate these symbols of love. The song from which this article took its name Pennies from Heaven had the infamous Bing Crosby crooning alongside legend Louis Armstrong about these messages from the beyond. The song teaches that fortune is "falling all over town". It seems to wink at the fact that there is aid coming from beyond if you have the eyes to see. The song became widely popular, even getting an Oscar nod from the Bing Crosby movie it debuted in. My mother-in-law, Pam, still gets a soft smile on her face when we come across a dime on the street. According to Pam her sister, Billie, sends her dimes from heaven. Maybe Billie knew to adjust for inflation or maybe it was a special symbol shared between the sisters. It binds them together even years after Billie has passed. A daily reminder of the love that is not lost. It lives perched in the center of our hearts beating in solidarity with our grief.
After Tilly passed I saw rainbows, ladybugs, and Flamingos EVERYWHERE. I see it in the small rainbow made by my garden hose every day. In the ladybugs, yes live ladybugs, that find me and crawl up my sleeves. In the bright pink Flamingo hooks that adorn my sister's bathroom wall. I have shared these symbols with friends who were never able to meet Tilly. Now, even months after her passing, my friends will send me snapshots of ladybugs they have found immortalized in tiles, gardens, or as part of a wind chime. They share them with me as a symbol of their love and affection with the simple caption that has become our own personal Hallmark for these sightings - "Hi Tilly".
Maybe these dimes and ladybugs were always around us. Maybe the meaning is all in our heads. To quote a wise and fictional friend, Albus Dumbledore, "Of course, this is all happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean it isn't real?" What is real in our minds is real. At the very least it allows a break from the permanence of loss. A respite however brief from your day as a smile and wink from the beyond. A few days after we lost Tilly I found myself in a tattoo shop getting a small ladybug adorned on my right forearm. To honor my fallen ladybug. Now it acts as my personal penny from heaven. I can look down at it, smile, and say - even if just silently to myself - "Hi Tilly."