A Grandmother Explains the Meaning Behind an Unusual Graduation Gift

Devastated after the sudden loss of her daughter, she asked God to send her a sign. She soon realized she had already received a special message from above. 

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- Posted on Jul 24, 2020

Illustration of a feather

My Dear Granddaughter,

Congratulations on your high school graduation. I wanted to get you something special for the occasion. I came across the enclosed hand-painted feather in a gift shop on a recent trip to Arizona. It felt like the right gift because it also comes with a story. One I haven’t told you before. It’s about your biological mother—my daughter, Missy.

You know she loved you, and that is why she gave you up. It was a difficult choice, but it was the right one. Missy was so young when she got pregnant. Her life was unstable. She was struggling on and off with drug addiction. And I was too old to raise another child. We both wanted you to have a big family, with parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Everything we couldn’t give you.

When your mom and dad invited me to be a part of your life, I was overjoyed. Missy couldn’t have picked better people to be your parents. Every time I visited you and saw what a happy, well-adjusted little girl you were, it confirmed once again that Missy had made the right decision. The story I want to tell you starts in April of 2005. When you were just seven years old.

I’ll never forget that day. It was warm. The sun was shining. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. But I couldn’t enjoy it. I had this lingering sense of unease. I hadn’t heard from Missy in a few days. It wasn’t that unusual, but I couldn’t help but worry. I’d called several times and gotten her voice mail. Her inbox was full, and I couldn’t leave a message. I told myself I was being silly. Missy was improving, working on getting off drugs. She was likely just busy. It was probably nothing.

I decided to let the dogs out to play to take my mind off things. I took Roxie and Pippin out into the yard. They chased each other around. Eventually, Roxie brought over a blue ball for me to throw for her. Our game of fetch kept me occupied for a while, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Missy. Maybe I should call her again….

When it was time to head back inside, I went to get the ball. But as I bent to pick it up, something else caught my eye.

A feather. I’d never seen a feather like this. It was huge. It looked as if it had to have come from a bird the size of a swan. But it wasn’t white—it was black and glossy. Iridescent. It was beautiful. I didn’t want to leave it there in the grass. I just knew something about this feather was special.

There was an old stump near the house, one that I could see from the living room window. I stuck the feather into the grooves of the bark, so it was standing up. Over the next few days, whenever I caught sight of it, it brought a smile to my face.

Then the phone call came. The one that tore my world apart.

Missy was dead. She had died of an accidental overdose a few days before, but she had only just been found in her apartment.

The next few months were a blur. I struggled to make sense of what had happened. Most nights, I lay awake wondering if there was something I could have done. I just wanted to know that Missy was all right. I prayed that if it was God’s will, he’d send me a sign, but none came.

My friend Nancy was an unwavering source of strength for me during this time. One night, she invited me to dinner at her house. She was having a few people over. One interesting guest she mentioned was a man who was deeply spiritual. She thought it might be good for me to speak with him about my loss. I was skeptical that he could say anything that I hadn’t already heard, but I knew my friend was trying to help. So I went.

Dinner was nice, and the company was good. I listened as Nancy’s friend talked about being open to signs from heaven. The sentiments were kind, but I didn’t really connect with the conversation. After dessert, I gathered my purse and coat. Before I could head for the door, Nancy’s friend stopped me.

“I have something I feel like I need to share with you. A message,” he said. “Your daughter wants to know if you found the feather she left for you.”

I stopped in my tracks. All of a sudden, it dawned on me. The feather I’d found? I’d found it on the day that Missy had passed. I had gotten the sign I’d hoped for; I just hadn’t known where to look.

How Nancy’s friend knew remains a mystery to me. I had never told a soul about the feather. But I’m grateful for that message, because it showed me that Missy was at peace.

The feather enclosed in this package isn’t the same one, but I hope whenever you look at it, it’ll be a reminder. A reminder that, as you move on to this next phase of your life, Missy will be there, watching over you from heaven. And today, sweetheart, she is so proud of you. Just as I am.

All My Love,
Grandma Lynn

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