There I sat wiping away tears in a crowded restaurant – again.
I gazed down onto the three letters I – A – N … strung together in a manner so that I could pick it out in a line-up of a hundred other “Ian” signatures. It was his actual signature cast perfectly into a delicate silver ring. The signature looked exactly how I had seen it so very many times before when he signed his name to an important letter, note, and later in life, on a sales contract.
The ring featured the “neat” version, not the signature he used when signing a check or on one of those ridiculous credit card machines. In those cases, you’d only see the “I” and the rest was barely more than a straight line. I remember that I chuckled the first time I saw it. I think he was in middle school and I asked him if he thought he was a doctor or a rock star. Actually, I love that he learned to use the sloppy signature at such a young age, as if he intuitively understood that sometimes it mattered and other times it simply did not. Sometimes you steal away a few seconds to keep for yourself – because seconds add up to minutes, minutes add up to days.
We know — all too well — that every single second matters…
That signature is as unique and original as Ian. That’s why it brought me to tears – in the middle of The Cheesecake Factory – sitting across from Ian’s beloved Lei. “Happy Birthday, mama!” she said as she watched me unsuccessfully choke back the tears and the large lump in my throat. The word “mama”, however, sent me tumbling over the edge. A few seconds later, the server unwittingly came over to take our order and somehow we carried on, as we have learned to do in these gut wrenching past two years.
It’s been a few weeks and this thoughtful gift continues to have a profound impact on me. I wear it so that I can read the name right-side-up, and it grips me every single time I catch a glimpse of it.
I have other beautiful jewelry that I wear in memory of Ian, including a heart necklace that carries a bit of his ashes. But, this ring…it is different.
It’s as if Ian comes back to me each time I see it.
I’d like to explain it, but I can’t.
I only know that bereaved parents fear that they will forget the sound of their child’s voice, the feel of their touch and other treasured aspects of their being. We play old movies in our heads as often as we can bear in order to sear them into memory.
Forgetting is forbidden.
Perhaps it’s that deep desire to remember and feel our lost son that turns this ring into another lifeline.
When Ian first passed away, I felt I lived in another realm. Nothing felt the same. Nothing felt right. I walked into a crowded room and felt detached. I walked into Costco seemingly in an alternate universe where all the other people had no idea what life was truly about…but I knew.
Life is but a vapor…and the only thing that matters is love.
I’ve shared before that the Lord has heightened my senses. I see and feel things differently now. A flower is no longer just a flower, but it sends me messages and understanding. A butterfly is no longer just a dancing distraction on my hedge, but delivers a moment of deep peace … and I feel God’s love.
A perfectly twisted piece of silver can flood my soul with emotions, instantly connecting me with Ian at a whole new level.
And, sometimes, when I’m paying attention, I grasp answers to questions that plague me.
A few days ago, my niece, Jocelyn, gave me yet another thoughtful Birthday gift. The card to which the gift was attached read:
When you believe beyond what your eyes can see, signs from heaven show up to remind you love never dies.
Happy Heavenly Birthday, Ian. Your love is still alive…
Ian Tyler Coronas * August 29, 1993 to October 8, 2016