Monday, June 13, 2011

A Special Encounter

My dearest Jess is in town, having flown here all the way from Montana for a four-day visit with us and our Jackson. As with so much of these days in this newly transformed world, her visit is so bittersweet. The first time she came to visit us here in DC was when Hudson was six weeks old—Jess came and spent a week with us in January of 2009, when we took Hudson on her first trip on the metro down to the National Mall for the star-studded concert on the day before Barack Obama’s inauguration. It was a magical time for all of us. The next time she came to visit was last May—as soon as it became clear that Hudson would likely not survive the meningitis infection, Jessica was on the next plane out of Helena and arrived in DC about 12 hours later. She again stayed with us for a week, basically taking over the coordination of all of our visitors and the planning of Hudson’s memorial service, and helping me somehow begin to deal with the absolutely unimaginable, all the while handling her own grief, both over Hudson’s death and her mother’s almost exactly three years before under shockingly similar circumstances. So to have her here with us now, as we all welcome a two-week-old Jackson and continue to mourn our precious Hudson, is wonderful and beautiful and sad and surreal all at the same time. 

There was no doubt that we would make a visit to Hudson’s bench while she was here. Until today, the weather had remained mostly hot and humid, too much so for a little one who is still not three weeks old. Yesterday, Jessica suggested that we go to the Arboretum today and I agreed, because the weather was supposed to turn gorgeous today, with much lower temperatures and humidity. She gently said, “And you know, it’s the thirteenth.” And indeed, I had completely forgotten that it was. I told her that I had been thinking about that a lot lately and that at some point, I was going to need to let go of the significance of that day each month. (Not to mention the fact that I have no way to follow the pattern of memories I’ve been sharing here, because of course, all of our memories with Hudson ended in May 2010. I have no more photos or stories to tell after that.) She agreed, but said it would still be a good day to visit Hudson’s bench. And indeed it was.

We decided to head out there before lunch—even though the day was supposed to be much cooler, we figured it would be better to visit in the morning before it warmed up. We got there around 11:30 and as we headed into the Dogwood Collection, we ran into a friend from the neighborhood who had been unable to join us for the memorial on May 13 and was stopping by with her one-year-old daughter to see Hudson’s bench for the first time. She seemed overwhelmed to see us and then she quickly explained why. As soon as she told us what was waiting for us at Hudson’s bench, we had to get down there to see it for ourselves.

This is what she had seen. And when we saw it for ourselves, we, too, were overwhelmed.



It was a huge turtle, sitting in the sun almost exactly halfway between Hudson’s bench and the gnarled dogwood tree under which we sprinkled some of Hudson’s ashes on her birthday (in the background of the photo above). Ed took several pictures as we all tried to take in how incredible it was. We have never seen a turtle at the Arboretum before, in all our many trips.




And then, it turned around and started walking directly toward Jackson, who was napping in his carrier on Hudson’s bench.



As I sit here now, many hours later, I still don’t know what to make of that encounter.  But it’s hard not to imagine we received a very special visit today.

31 comments:

  1. What a special sign. Love this story.

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  2. So, so special. Took my breath away.... what a wonderful visitor!! Rachel C.

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  3. Mandy, that is so special. I grew up in this area and I have never, ever seen a turtle just wandering around in the grass. And yet, there it is, in such a special place. That is really something. Hi sweet Hudson!

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  4. Wow, that brought tears to me eyes...what a special gift!

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  5. That's amazing Mandy.

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  6. Kristine SullivanJune 13, 2011 at 9:15 PM

    Chills and tears. I know that was your sweet Hudson with you today, in a more physical way than she might be on other days. What a wonderful, wonderful surprise!

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  7. Wow, wow, wow! How amazing, Mandy!

    -Ashley D.

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  8. I'm still overwhelmed! And before you got there the turtle was not walking. It moved a tiny bit into the sunshine, and kicked its back legs but did not go anywhere, the whole half hour or so I was there. I'm even more in awe now.

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  9. Gasp and chills. Amazing.

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  10. I have chills, Mandy. This is something special, surely a sign that Hudson's spirit is with us still.

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  11. I have chills all over-- she is never all the way gone.

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  12. Holy cow...as soon as I scrolled down and saw the first turtle picture, I started crying and laughing, to the point that my husband wanted to know what I was doing!

    Oh, that girl of yours...she is truly something else! This is incredible, just incredible. I hope this amazing encounter lifted your spirits ~ a very special visit, indeed!

    ~Jillian

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  13. What a magical sign that Hudson will always be with you...such grace. Renee P.

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  14. The turtle has become one of your power animals. They will continue to show up, especially when you need that extra boost of support or energy. Very cool!

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  15. Wow, Mandy, what an incredible thing to happen. I think you had a special visitor today, too.
    ~amanda

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  16. Hudson! You little imp! You continue to stay in touch with your family.
    Mandy, what a wonderful, breathtaking surprise.
    Big hugs. I'm so happy you have Jess.

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  17. I'm in tears Mandy.... take each moment as it comes mamma.. this one was magical.

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  18. Tears here, too. I'm so glad she came by to say hi to all of you.

    I'm so glad Jess is there with you, too. It sounds like you have a very special friendship.

    Kris

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  19. What an amazing story!

    Hannah

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  20. Chills. Oh my goodness. You know, I didn't think to mention it to you, but when Helene and I visited Hudson's bench for the first time about a month ago, we also saw a huge turtle in the Dogwood Collection. It was further into the Collection, closer to the fountain. I was surprised to see a turtle there, since it's so far from the water. The turtle we saw pretty much ignored us, and let us get very close. I didn't make the turtle connection with Hudson until now...unbelievable!

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  21. That's beautiful. Hudson is speaking to you from Heaven. :-)

    I don't know if you're familiar with this blog/website, but this mama has a story that's different, yet similar to yours. She recently had her second baby after a loss. http://tylerandrewclark.weebly.com/index.html

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  22. Mandy, that is just incredible. In all my visits to the Arboretum, I have never seen a turtle. This is just amazing. What a beautiful sign from Hudson letting you know she is still here with you in a way. A beautiful story and pictures. love, Kate Z.

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  23. Oh my goodness, that is beyond incredible. I have to completely agree that you had a very special encounter. :)

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  24. How absolutely beautiful and amazing! Daz and I are sitting here stunned and grateful you had this experience!

    Love to you all!
    Candy and Daz

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  25. Oh I love this! What a beautiful experience for you all. Kell

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  26. Goosebumps! How beautiful...

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  27. I just read this entry for the second time and got chills all over again. Wow. Thinking of Hudson.

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