Someone to Watch over Me - February 2022
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW
A few memories stand out in my mind. When President Kennedy was shot—I was in Springfield, Missouri, at a drive-through bank to cash my paycheck. 9-11-2001 when a plane hit the first tower in New York City—I was at home getting ready for work when I heard the news on TV. Other memories are vivid—my wedding day and when my daughters were born. And another day—February 12, several years ago, when I was driving from the hospital in Concordia, Kansas, back to the town where I worked. I had been at the hospital to provide moral support for a co-worker whose mother had a massive stroke that day, and the prognosis for her mother was poor.
But let me set the stage a bit before I continue. On February 28 the previous year, my husband had died. My first year without him was not easy, and I was dreading the one-year anniversary of his death that was only days away. As I traveled east on Highway 24 that day, I saw a bird with a large wing-span off in the distance, soaring in the sky. The bird resembled an eagle, but eagles are rare in our area. But just in case it was an eagle, I started slowing the car down as the big bird drifted downward and came to rest on top of a telephone pole beside the highway ahead of me. I slowly brought my car to a stop beside the pole. When I looked up, I realized it really was an eagle! My husband who died loved eagles, and it was exciting to be so close to such a majestic bird! I thought I would only have moments to observe the bird, so I decided I would sit in the car as long as the bird sat on the pole, and I would leave when the bird did.
As I sat, I looked up at the eagle, and he looked down at me. I called a co-worker to tell her I was looking at an eagle that was nearby! I knew she would understand my excitement because she knew how much my husband loved eagles. “You will never believe where I am and what I am doing!” I excitedly told her. “I am sitting beside the highway, and there is an eagle sitting on top of a telephone pole right beside the car! It is looking down at me, and I am looking up at him.” I told her I would soon be back to work, and we ended our conversation. After I hung up, I quietly continued to sit in the car, and the eagle sat on the pole. Finally, the magnificent bird left the top of the pole, gracefully swooped downward, flew low over a field, across the highway, and into a grove of trees.
I could no longer see the eagle, but the memory stayed. I was amazed at what I had just experienced, and I remembered another eagle story my co-workers had told about the evening they had carpooled to my husband’s respect calls on March 2 the previous year. As their van approached a river, a large eagle swooped down in front of the vehicle. They said it seemed to stop in mid-air for a few seconds as the van barreled toward it. Then the eagle swooped upward and away. They too were startled and amazed. They felt it was some kind of sign.
That same evening on March 2, a splendid, bright-pink sunset filled the entire sky. It was so beautiful that my brother-in-law stopped his vehicle, made photos, and later gave me an enlarged copy. My husband loved sunsets, and that sunset seemed to be just for him, but the sunset was also a comforting sign for our family.
Almost one year after my husband’s death, that eagle on the pole was the third sign—a special message just for me—a calming, comforting, visible assurance that things would work out. I believe my eagle experience was to let me know that all was well with my husband and I would be all right too. I no longer felt as alone as I faced the anniversary of his death. Like George Gershwin’s song, written many years ago, I realized I had “someone to watch over me.”
“Those who pass us by do not go alone, and do not leave us alone;
they leave a bit of themselves and take a little of us.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator