I took a deep breath and tried to settle my anxious heart. I had just left the gym, which should have calmed me, and did, until I pulled into my driveway and started overthinking about random things I shouldn’t be overthinking about. Okay, breathe. I tell myself. This has been my mantra for the last few weeks. Breathe. Refocus. Pray. I am never alone.
I remind myself of this. But it still hurts.
If I’m being honest with myself, I’ve been struggling a little bit. Since officially graduating from college at the end of December, my life’s been flipped upside-down. I had been finishing up the last leg of my degree—student teaching—and while that was happening, I knew what I was doing. I had a plan.
Now, I was unsure. Unsure of my identity, where I was headed, where I wanted to live, and on top of that, a recent breakup had my head spinning.
My everyday world had tilted with the start of the new year, and I was still trying to sort it all out.
I shifted my car into park and closed my eyes for a moment. Across the yard was my neighbor’s house, a beautiful Victorian duplex in a light grey-blue. I studied the siding, contemplating what to do next, how to get my mind back to the post-workout high, the confident, smiling, attitude.
I sighed and leaned over to the passenger side to grab my workout bag and purse. I am never alone. I said these words to myself as I shrugged my purse onto my shoulder, ready to walk into a house that felt empty, and that probably was.
For some reason, I stopped for a moment before opening the car door and looked down. A feather. A white, thin, fluffy feather on the passenger seat. Just sitting there. Staring at me.
“Feathers are the angels’ way of looking over you,” my mother says, twirling one in her hands. It is late June, and I am getting ready to head back to Iowa to finish out my last semester. My mother is standing at our kitchen counter where she had found this little treasure. It made absolutely no sense.
I pick it up off the table, run my finger over the soft ribs and wonder how, wonder where, it came from.
About a month ago, my mother started reading a book on angels, as a recommendation from her sister-in-law. The book talked about angels, and how they are always taking care of us, always leaving us signs—feathers—to let us know that they are present with us.
The concept was strange, but beautiful, really. Beautiful to imagine these invisible forces taking care of you all hours of the day, leaving little feathers so you know you’re on the right path, so you know you’re not alone.
Over the past few months, my mother had found feathers in all sorts of unexpected places—the outside porch, the dog bed, the kitchen—it brought her to tears, every single time. There was no rhyme or reason, and each feather wasn’t this perfect clarity or necessarily the answer she’d been looking for. But it was hope.
I stared at the little feather in my front seat and burst into tears. I hadn’t seen a feather in months, or perhaps hadn’t noticed one. I’d been so focused on myself—my feelings, my sadness, my frustration and confusion and indecision and fear. This feather made absolutely no sense. The only two things on that seat were a purse and a lunch bag. Nothing soft, nothing fluffy, nothing that would have feathers.
Nothing my house would have feathers. I didn’t own any down pillows, any small ducklings—nothing. It made absolutely no sense. Yet, at the same time, it did.
An angel was watching over me. I wasn’t alone.
I picked up the feather and held it in my hands for a moment. A feeling of calm washed over me. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing. And I didn’t have my life mapped out.
But that was okay. I was on the right path.
This little feather was the reminder I needed, the push, the subtle sign to keep going, to trust that yes, I would get through this. And as I stepped out of my car and into the snowy cold to continue on with my day, I felt at peace.
I am never alone.