“I have to tell you something.”
Back in the day, hearing these words would’ve sent my mind into overdrive. I’d break into full-on gypsy mode, gazing desperately into the crystal ball of my mind – all in the name of predicting what the other person was going to say.
In my twenties and thirties, my amateur predictions were almost always rooted in immaturity and fear. Uh Oh. I must have done something wrong. I bet she’s going to say that so-and-so was talking about me. This can’t be good.
Now, in my late forties, I’m happy to report my wise old predictions carry with them a sense of hope. And deep down inside, I know why. I believe the more I share my personal Heavenly Hello stories from my beloved parents, whether through my blog or in personal conversations, the more spontaneous stories I hear from others about their own extraordinary encounters with the dearly departed. To hear these stories of others’ experiences fuels my soul.
Last Spring, God saw that my fuel gauge was near empty and lovingly guided Zita, a friend and coworker of mine, to fill ‘er up.
It was the beginning of a busy shift. I was assigned to relieve the recovery room nurses for their lunch break. As I walked into the crowded recovery room, I was greeted by Zita:
“Hey Marla Maples. Don’t leave. I have to tell you something.” Her beaming smile and the excitement in her voice permeated through the hustle and bustle of the unit.
“Hold on, Saint Zita. Let me get my patient upstairs. I’ll be right back.”
(Witty nicknames come naturally to us. I’m her Marla Maples and she’s my Saint Zita, named after a memorable childhood saint.)
Once our patients were settled, Zita motioned me over and began to tell me about her beloved grandmother, Güeli who passed away 15 years ago. Güeli lived with Zita and her family up until the time Zita left home to get married. The two were inseparable. They even shared a room and a bed together. Their close relationship was built on a strong foundation of love and trust. They shared a remarkable bond, which Zita undoubtedly treasures to this day.
Zita told me that when she was a teenager, Güeli gave her a gold ring. On top of the ring rested two rhinestone hearts side by side, with a smaller heart nestled between the two. Zita used to tell Güeli the ring represents their two hearts, always together.
Years of wear and tear warped the shank of the ring and flattened the corner of one of the hearts – but Zita didn’t mind. She missed her Güeli so much, and to her, the ring and all of its imperfections served as the perfect reminder of their love for one another.
Seven years ago, Zita’s house was robbed. Among the many possessions stolen was her precious heart ring. Zita recalled the heartache she felt and how she coped with the pain. “I knew I was never going to see it again. So I just kept telling myself to just forget about the ring.”
Just as I was about to interject a sympathetic comment, Zita’s facial expression changed. So I waited. Her story was far from over.
Zita explained that two weeks earlier, she had instructed her patient’s husband and aunt on the delivery procedure. The husband was assigned to support his wife’s head on one side of the bed, while the aunt was to hold back the patient’s leg on the other side.
In the delivery room, everyone assumed their positions, with Zita smack-dab in the middle, ready and eager to facilitate the miracle of life. Everything was going as planned. Thirty minutes into pushing, Zita noticed something in the corner of her eye as the aunt tried to reposition the patient’s leg. She caught a glimpse of a gold ring the aunt was wearing on her pinky finger. The face of the ring was turned away, but there was something undeniably familiar about it.
Immediately, Zita removed her gloves and asked the aunt: “Can I see your ring?”
She held out her hand. Zita leaned over and carefully turned the ring towards her. She couldn’t believe her eyes. It looked exactly like Güeli’s heart ring.
“Can I try it on?” Zita asked. The aunt kindly obliged.
Zita carefully slipped it onto the ring finger of her right hand – the finger she always used to wear it on. It fit perfectly. She knew without a doubt it was the very ring that had belonged to her beloved Güeli.
Still in shock, Zita asked, “Where did you get this ring?”
The aunt explained she had bought it at a pawn shop years earlier. Zita then told her the history behind the ring and how much it meant to her. Without hesitation, the aunt asked if she wanted the ring back.
Zita’s eyes widened; she thought her heart was going to beat out of her chest. She was ecstatic. “Yes! Yes! I will buy it from you if I have to.”
Just then the patient had the urge to push, and Zita snapped back to reality. It was time to refocus on the delivery. They agreed to finalize the deal after the baby was born. All Zita could think about was the ring.
At the end of Zita’s shift, the aunt approached her and offered to sell her the ring for one hundred dollars. Zita accepted the offer without a second thought. She didn’t have the money on hand, but the aunt graciously handed over her precious keepsake anyway.
“I promise I will give you the money. Can I go get it now?” Zita asked.
The aunt agreed. Zita immediately called her sister and asked her to bring the money when she came to pick her up from her work. “I’ll explain everything on the way home,” Zita assured her.
Minutes later, Zita’s sister arrived. She rushed to the car, got the hundred dollars, and ran back in the patient’s room to complete her heavenly exchange.
“Thank you very much. You have made me very happy.” The aunt smiled back at Zita’s joyous remark.
On their way home, Zita answered her sister’s hundred dollar question in great detail.
“For real?!” she cried out. She looked at Zita’s hand and screamed with excitement as she recognized Güeli’s ring.
When Zita got home, she couldn’t help but inspect her ring more closely. There it was. The bent shank, the slightly flattened corner of the heart. Zita said she knew in her heart of hearts it was a sign from Güeli to let her know she was still with her.
“So what do you think, Marla Maples? I mean, what are the odds of me ever seeing my stolen ring again? Is this a miracle or what? Look.”
Zita fanned out her right hand, putting every Price is Right model to shame as she proudly showcased her blessed gift.
Covered in goosebumps, I examined the ring while she pointed out its unique features. I was blown away.
“Wow. Look at that, Saint Zita! I totally agree. It is a miracle. This is Güeli’s way of saying hello and sending her love to you. God is so good.”
As hard as it was, we somehow managed to keep our emotions in check and sneak in a quick hug to finalize our shared sacred moment. It was time to get back to work,but the feeling of awe over Zita’s story sustained me through my busy shift. I’m still in awe.
Hope is everywhere – even in the I-have-to-tell-you-somethings.