“Believe. Believe in yourself. Believe in the One who believes in you. All things are possible to she who believes. Blessings on your courage.”- Sarah Ban Breathnach
I’m trying to find things to make me believe again. To hold on to something that gives me faith in something, after losing so much of it once you were gone. It’s hard. I don’t know how you did it. I know you had this strength and resilience in you that came down to a unshaken sense of faith. But I feel like the way we lost you has made me come undone, especially my sense of what I believed in.
I try to keep reminders around me to keep believing. Even the sign above, which hangs on the back of my door so that I can see it every time I am about to leave my apartment. I try to spend time with people who keep me believing. And I choose to spend time alone when it seems that somehow, the people around me seem to be more non-believing than myself. God knows THAT is the last thing I need. More non-believing attitudes.
Sometimes, it’s not actual people or anything breathing that I look to to grow back belief. But signs. Sometimes, they are billboard signs, sometimes, they are quotes or book covers, or inspiring Facebook photos. But for awhile now, I’ve been looking to numbers, and license plates in particular, as little glimmers of hope.
Awhile back, just after you passed away, I remember driving and feeling lost, or maybe I was feeling lost, so then decide to just drive aimlessly somewhere. I remember asking myself or the Universe to give me a sign that we are still a family together- you, me, and my brother. And I started realizing that often, in those moments, I’d see license plates with the exact initials of our names LTR or TRL or TLR around me, and for some reason, I felt that this was… hopeful. That it was somehow reassurance that we are still together in some way or another, even if you are not physically here with us.
I know, it sounds ridiculous. Even as I type this, I feel like rolling my eyes at myself. But even when I would ‘forget’ about this little game of hope I had created for awhile, it would show up again, at the moments that I felt most lost, or sad, or confused. Hopeless. And then there, out of nowhere, a car would pass me and it would be another combination- maybe RLT this time. Or I would find myself parking behind a car with some combination of those three letters. Or I’d be driving in traffic, frustrated or wondering why I took the route I took, but then there it would show up again- TLR. And so I decided that each time this happened, it was your way, or the Universe’s way, of telling me everything was okay. That you were okay, and that nothing can really split us three apart, not even death.
One of my new favorites that comes up is the LMR license plates. I make believe that it stands for Laila Mama Rajwani.
But like many things that we can’t see and we have to just believe in, I do often find myself disappointingly reminding myself that it’s just coincidence. Child’s play. Adult Make Believe. I mean, how can the Universe plant certain license plate combinations conveniently in front of me all the time, right? And who is this Universal power, magical being anyway, right? Come on, Tas, I tell myself. Maybe those letters are just very popular on BC License plates. Or maybe it’s just that my eyes see them more because I WANT to see them, but that they were always there anyway, and therefore, don’t signify anything.
I was in that kind of extreme frame of mind last year sometime. Really really down about beliefs and life, and almost mocking myself for making up these silly signs to try to alleviate my hurt over losing you. Who am I kidding, I thought? None of this is real. None of this is proof of anything, I told myself. And that night, I was so angry and just late for everything. I was driving around, trying to find a parking spot to make it to my dance class. Why am I even dancing when my mom is gone? I remember thinking. What is the reason for any of this? How do I know where I should even be going or what I should be doing? Maybe I shouldn’t be here. I should just go home and give up on all of this.
And then I turned one corner, and there was one parking spot left on the side street a block away from the dance studio I was trying to get to. So I parked, a little flustered, but relieved that I found something. And as I was getting out of the car, I looked ahead, and became still for a moment. My mouth must have dropped, I’m sure. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, or shrug it off as nothing again. But I couldn’t this time, because on the license plate directly in front of me were the letters TAS. My name. Or at least the shortened version that a lot of people would probably called me. But in particular, I thought of the way you said Tas [Tus] that really melted my heart, Mom.
And it came to me in my head- you saying my name- at that moment, in your voice. And I imagined that you were calling out to me. Telling me that if I am not going to believe in the RTL, TLR, TRL licenses that the Universe has been planting all around for me, that maybe this one would be a lot clearer that YES, we are still together. And yes, everything is going to be okay. And that you, my mom, are so well that you are able to plant signs, and even license plates, on the roads all over the place, for me to see and to assure me that I’m on the right path.
This might all be so farfetched. It could be. But I do still hold on to any of the moments when I’m driving or walking and see those letter combinations. A couple of months ago, I was walking with a friend in downtown, a new person who had come into my life. I wasn’t sure about him or what the night would hold for me or us. But again, on a completely different road, in a completely different area away from the other dance studio site I had been the year before, I saw another TAS license plate. I smiled and told the guy I was with that I needed to take a picture.
Was it the same car I had seen the previous year? Was it the same license plate? Or maybe it didn’t matter because all that did matter was that it was the same sign- to keep going as I am, because you, my mother, are still with me, calling out my name whenever I am needing it.
Belief is a difficult thing. It is hard to prove. It is hard to stick by when you can’t see it physically or hold it in your hands. But I realize it is all I really have now, to go by. And so I better take what I can- the signs that happen to cross my way, and hope that maybe, just maybe, my mother has planted them all along to let me know that she is still continuing on this journey with me. That THAT will never end. And that she is able to look out for me and my brother now at the same time. So the three of us remain together, though on a different level, still together forever.