In my faith, if you have a need, we've got a saint for that. I've got one of those little "guardian angels" hanging from the rear view of the pick-up, but I don't take much stock in it. Some would say I need a St. Christopher medal, but I got Sam and me a membership in AAA instead.
If you've lost someone close to you, like we have in the Wolfe house, then you probably carry that person with you like a patron saint from time to time.
The year after Mark died, in my own year of magical thinking, I often talked to birds that came close, in case it was him.
Friends would tell me that they would get visits from their loved one. These were the greatest stories, by the way, friends who could see the loved one in a bedroom mirror after dark, or who would see the loved one next to the bed, and carry on a conversation. I was a little jealous. The birds never talked back to me. Once I thought Mark was trying to visit -- coming down the hall after all the kids had fallen asleep -- but I got so terribly frightened that he never tried again.
Hence the birds.
Michael called when I got home from Iowa. He was filled with emotion. He had felt Mark's presence all through the end of high school and through the first years of college. But now, as he is about to start his senior year, Mark has left his side, Michael says.
"He was trying to get me to be the man he wanted me to be," Michael said.
Michael realized the message: he was there, the rest was up to him, it was his life to lead now.
Mark's been gone for nearly five years and he still makes me weak in the knees.