Angels, Ladybugs & Bees:  Communications with my son’s spirit and heightened awareness of beauty and joy in the signs of God at work in the world

On Saturday morning, 12 – 13 – 14, at 11:44 AM, I took two pictures of two solitary clouds in the sky above our neighborhood. Curiously, they were the only clouds in the sky that I could see. I immediately posted them on Facebook and wrote “Just a couple of reminders we are never alone :)” I zoomed in on the larger cloud and took another picture because I noticed the contours of a face on the leading edge of that cloud, and thought to myself that the clouds represented Guardian Angels. Approximately twenty -five hours later, my 11 year-old son Jeffrey John Hughes, Jr’s eternal spirit would transform from his physical body to Heaven.

I rarely ventured out of the house during the three weeks that followed my son Jeffrey’s unexpected passing on 12-14-14, but I decided to accept my friend MJ’s offer to play a free round of golf on his dime on January 8th. This was not an easy thing for me to agree to do, not just because I had forgotten how to swing a golf club and was completely out of shape, but also because I wasn’t confident I could handle being with others as I continued to grieve. However, I knew any distraction would be good for me, so I went along.

My first sign that God and my son had not abandoned me was a smiley face made from rocks on a hillside that both MJ and I noticed from his car while traveling on the highway. Having arrived at the course, we grabbed our clubs from the car, and MJ tried to brush something off of my shirt. What he thought was a bee turned out to be a “lucky” ladybug. I decided that was the second sign that Jeffrey approved of my break from grieving.

Most of the first 9 holes were forgettable, and it felt as if I had played 18 as I approached the 8th green. I am almost sure I expressed more frustration and anger in those two hours than I had over the prior two months that included several surgeries prior to Jeffrey’s transformation to a higher state of being with God. At that moment, looking up into the sky, I noticed an interesting cloud formation that appeared to be in the shape of an Angel. I was immediately filled with an inner calm and peace, and knew intuitively that Jeffrey, God, or an Angel formed the cloud as a sign that they were all watching over me. I proceeded to chip in my putt 30 yards from the hole, and I found “my game” that had abandoned me over the prior 7 holes.

Five days later, on January 12th, I was visited by a second ladybug as I somewhat shakily ventured out of my house to pick up Amelie and Lincoln, my two youngest kids, at their elementary school. I had stayed away from the school in the weeks after Jeffrey’s transformation due to memories of Jeffrey’s happy times there. Jeffrey graduated from the 5th grade at the same school in June of 2014 In spite of everything he was going through. My wife Annie still hasn’t been to the school since Jeffrey’s transformation.

While at Franklin Elementary School’s assembly to watch my son Lincoln in a small sketch that his student council group was performing on January 21, several 5th graders showed off their swing dance moves that had won the district’s swing dance competition. This immediately reminded me of the previous year when Jeffrey was too weak to join in this activity, and I immediately experienced feelings of great sadness and grief.   Suddenly a bee landed on my newspaper.

This wouldn’t “be” out of the ordinary except for the fact that another, much larger bee, a Valley carpenter bee, had come to visit me a week earlier while my friend Ryan was helping me assemble a new trampoline in our backyard. This bee seemed to be very tired and landed on my jacket. He didn’t want to leave, so I took off my jacket and hung both jacket and bee on a chair. The next day he was still there, so I coaxed him off the jacket and put him and a flower in a birdhouse.

Upon arriving at home after the assembly, a tired and dried out flower from a Bougainvillea plant adjacent to the sidewalk separated from its branch and twirled to the ground in perfect paper helicopter-like form. This spiral made me think back on how Jeffrey always loved to fly and wanted to be a pilot.

To my utter surprise, the Valley carpenter bee in the birdhouse was still alive, even though he was barely moving. I picked him up and placed him in a new flower with pistols full of nectar, and he immediately started to drink the nectar. All of a sudden he started to move his wings, and soon thereafter he was flying off into the blue sky.

The visits by the two bees brought me relief from my sadness — Jeffrey was sending me a message. Whether or not it was a coincidence or a sign, it reminded me of the beauty and mystery of the world God has created for us.

Of course Jeffrey loved all sorts of creatures, and I would assume his spirit is exploring various places in Heaven that contain an inordinate number of species that range from herbivore dinosaurs to carnivorous seaweed. It is in small moments like these, when Jeffrey comes to mind, that I am grateful that although his spirit is with God, there are still forms on earth that remind me of who he was and the life that he lived. Jeffrey is now in a perfect state of unity with his Creator.

What a joyful place to be.