Hummingbirds, Pennies, and Verizon Texts


On the day that Robb died, my mom’s phone became Grief’s Grand Central Station. She spent the whole day on the phone, letting people know what had happened, updating people on what would happen next, and fielding travel arrangements from friends and family all over the country who were immediately routing their holiday flights unexpectedly through Denver.

Everybody called Polly. They called, texted, asked, checked, double checked, and confirmed with Polly. She was glued to her phone because it was the only sure fire way that anyone could get to us.

In the middle of it all, she got a random but insistent text from Verizon: Her statement was available online. It’s a random thing, not noteworthy even remotely, but it stood out that day as the only meaningless thing that happened. Yes, thank you, Verizon. Your updates hardly matter right now.

But the thing is, those Verizon texts began to show up at the most important times, always interrupting something profound.

On my children’s birthdays, as they turned a year older and we sang Happy Birthday and they blew out their candles, my mom’s phone would beep with a notification: Verizon.

At my book release party, I read an excerpt from a chapter to a crowded room, and my mom’s phone vibrated with a notification: Verizon.

At Tucker’s football game, he would throw a touchdown pass and my mom’s phone would go off: Verizon.

Tyler would perform his musical on opening night. Notification at intermission: Verizon.

People who have lost someone they love often tell of a way their loved ones seem to send love notes from heaven to here, how there are little odd consistencies that are too predictable to be coincidence. A song that plays like a whisper on the wind. A hummingbird that lingers in the way those jittery, bashful birds never would. A penny facing heads up on the sidewalk. Things that show up over and over again with timing that’s too unbelievable, too consistent, too intentional, and too perfect to make sense. It’s like someone’s saying hello to you in their own little way.

These Verizon texts became our family’s whimsical belief that Robb was saying hello. Because why not? And because it would be just like him to find a technological blip to hijack for himself. We felt like it was his way of sending a thumbs up. His way of saying, “Hey, you. I see you. And I approve.”design

On my wedding day to Peter, we had a window of time between the backyard wedding and the dancing reception when we traveled to a few places for some off-site photos. We went to a park in town and of course Starbucks. My brother and his wife drove us around town to our various destinations, and when we finished the photos and our frappuccinos, we headed over to the reception to dance the night away as a brand new husband and wife.

Just before we got out of the car, my groom in his tuxedo and me in my sparkling gown, Peter checked his phone.

“That’s weird,” he said. “Verizon just texted me.”

Of course they did. Or, of course he did.

Hey, you. I see you. And I approve.


Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Great story! And I can relate…my dad passed away from cancer in ’09 at age 61, after a 4 year battle, leaving us all completely devastated-most especially my mom. Years before he died, he bought one of those hand-held 20Q games-where you “think” of something (person, place or thing) and then the game “asks” you questions trying to figure out what you’re thinking about.

    About a week after dad died, my mom was having a weak moment alone at home when the game’s bleep bleep sounded from inside the sofa table. Somehow, it had turned on! So she played it. Of course she was thinking of my dad. At the end of the 20 questions the game’s face said “I know what you’re thinking of…SOULMATE.” Right before he died, my dad looked at mom and said “You’re my soulmate…my everything”.

    For probably over a year after that, the game would turn on at various times and she would always pick it up and play it–and of course, the answer would always be SOULMATE. 🙂 Except for once or twice the answer it would give was “You are thinking of…….ME!”

    There were a couple other “weird” phenomenon happening shortly after he died, like my boys’ toy trucks that were stashed away in a coat closet would randomly turn on and start spinning their wheels….

    Gotta tell ya, I was the biggest skeptic there is until I witnessed these things firsthand, and now I totally believe our loved ones can find ways to communicate from wherever they are and it’s a good thing.

  2. Tears of the sweet kind! Really happy for you and your boys (and for Peter too)! Thank you for sharing your journey with the rest of us. <3

  3. Directly following your posting this, there was an add for Verizon!

    • NO WAY…

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