On a crisp fall morning, my daughter Laura went to pose for her senior pictures with her brother Josh’s bright green snowboard. Josh had died in a motorcycle accident the summer before, and Laura, an avid snowboarder, wanted his board in the shot. The photographer knew the perfect backdrop—a vibrant graffiti wall in town. He peered through the lens, focused, and gasped. We all looked up and read the words spray-painted on the wall above Laura’s head: “Big Bro Is Watching.” What a beautiful reassurance that she has a guardian angel.
--Lynn Elsner, Missoula, Montana
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A happy mealPaul Brian Kiser/Shutterstock
We recently lost our beloved golden retriever Benny to cancer. In the year after his diagnosis, we spoiled him with attention and food. A favorite treat was two fast-food plain cheeseburgers. The day after Benny left us I went to the chain for lunch, thinking of Benny—chicken nuggets for me, but this time, no cheeseburgers. When I got home I found in the bag my nuggets and a plain double cheeseburger. The receipt revealed only the nuggets. I was stunned to tears, then laughter, when I realized Benny bought us lunch together one last time.
--Thomas Richard Smith, Cranberry, Pennsylvania
Fate on a platefizkes/Shutterstock
My 21-year-old nephew Markie died of cancer in February of 2013. I was driving on the highway on my way home from work one afternoon and, in between sobs, was talking to Markie. I asked him to send me a sign that he was okay. At that moment, a silver Lexus got in front of me. My nephew drove a Lexus. This is a coincidence, I thought, until I saw the license plate. It was a vanity plate with the initials MHR—Markie’s initials. He heard me and answered. Thanks, buddy. I love you.
--Robin McKeon, Plymouth, Massachusetts
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Doing the dishesSkoropadska Maruna/Shutterstock
I lost my son recently and was missing him terribly on my first Mother’s Day alone. We were very close and even jokingly agreed to try to make contact if one of us died. Late that evening I heard a loud noise downstairs. Upon investigation, I found a pile of holiday plates had fallen and shattered. As I picked up the pieces, I found one plate completely unscathed. I turned it over and was stunned to see that it said, “Happy Mother's Day.” That was my sign. Thank you, son.
--Carol Gavigan, Chicago Heights, Illinois
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A timely callHelmut Seisenberger/Shutterstock
My husband of 58 years passed away on December 9, 2014, the same day his mother died 41 years earlier. On the anniversary of his death in 2015, I received "thinking of you" flowers and phone calls from friends and family. That afternoon, my phone rang twice and stopped. Wondering who it had been, I checked the caller ID. To my surprise, it showed my husband's name and phone number. I have never received calls like that before or after.
--Eva Dreucci, Washington, Pennsylvania
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The solitary buckTony Campbell/Shutterstock
On a warm day in January, I went to visit my father at the cemetery for his 72nd birthday. I sat on the clay mixed with grass next to his grave, lay a rose, and told him about me. I pray each year he is happy and proud of his littlest girl who never got to know her daddy. Suddenly, I felt a warm touch on my back and looked upward to see a deer in the middle of the cemetery, solitary and staring. My eyes wandered to his headstone where a buck is carved and I smiled a joyous smile. I knew he was alright.
--Laura McKinney, Simpsonville, South Carolina
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A gift from momHelmut Seisenberger/Shutterstock
While shopping, I noticed a credit card on the floor. I picked it up, went to the courtesy desk and asked them to page the owner. I waited. No one came. They said that her cart was still there and she had gone out to her car to look for her card. When she came back, I approached her and asked if she lost something. She did, her credit card. I asked her name and established that it matched the card, which I then gave her. She said she had prayed to her mother, who had passed away recently, to help her find the card. We talked and I introduced myself. "My name is Claire," I said. She responded, "My mother's name was Claire." --Claire Salem, New City, New York
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Watching over campwelcomia/Shutterstock
My grandpa passed away from lung cancer in October of 2015. We always liked to think of his spirit as an eagle. Ever since my mom was a kid, it was a family tradition to go camping in Canada every summer. So in 2016 my grandma took my sister and I to Canada. When we got home, we looked on the campground website. There, on the homepage, was a picture of our camper with an eagle perched on top. The caption said, "Eagle watches over camp." We knew grandpa was there with us.
Tynan , Appleton, Wisconsin
A birthday in the maternity wardChameleonsEye/Shutterstock
It was the first anniversary of my grandpa Victor's passing. I was at work, on the maternity floor at a hospital, and had been thinking about him and missing him. Early in my shift I asked a couple what they named their baby. It was Victor. I told them all about my grandpa and couldn't believe the coincidence—in my 16 years of working in that environment I'd never met a baby Victor. Coincidence, maybe, but when I met another couple later in my shift who had also named their baby Victor, I knew it was my grandpa saying “Hi."
--Julie Cleveland, Statesboro, Georgia
Send us butterfliesViktor Gladkov/Shutterstock
It was a January day in New England when our son passed away in a hospital bed. Our daughter took his hand and said, "If you're at peace, let us know by sending butterflies." I knew the chances were slim—it was too cold. The next morning in the mail was an envelope from a school in the Midwest looking for donations. The first item we pulled out was a sheet of stick-on butterflies.
--Joseph Frederick, Barrington, Rhode Island