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Asking for a Sign

Updated on February 11, 2017
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I have lived in a suburb of New Orleans for 40 years with my husband of almost 52 years and my pigeon-toed calico cat, Lucy.

Terrapin: the sign

Waiting for a Sign

Sometime last fall, I woke up one morning with an old familiar feeling of: What's the point? Why even get up? It's that feeling that is past tears. Do you know what I mean? It's when you just don't care enough to cry. I could feel my husband watching me throughout the morning and I knew he was thinking: Oh, boy, here we go again. I just couldn't get it together. I couldn't smile and be okay.

Joe went off to tend to some business or another and I settled in to edit a deposition for a client. Before I did, I asked the universe, God, the "Is," Spirit, higher power, just anyone who might be listening at that particular time: Please just send me a sign. Let me know that you know I'm here and that you care. Let me explain. I have had mostly good times in my life but in the terribly bad ones, I have always asked for a sign. I have mostly always gotten one if things were bad enough to justify asking. I think the message when we don't get a sign is probably: Stop being such a wuss and suck it up! This time was bad. When I am seriously in a funk, when nothing is right, my collar bone that I broke when I was 7 hurts terribly, my ankle that I broke when I was 55 throbs and I drag that foot; and my whole body cries out for help and encouragement and gets none from me.

After imploring whoever might be listening that I get a sign, I settled in to work. One thing about the kind of work I do, you must absolutely be focused or it's a disaster. I worked most of the morning, still feeling nasty, but lost in the deposition I was working on. Around 11:30, I saw Joe go out the back door with a couple of raw hamburger patties on a plate. He usually fixes lunch about this time.



After he had been outside for a few minutes, maybe ten, he came to the door and said: "There's something out here you need to come see." And I knew. I knew as sure as my collarbone stopped hurting and my ankle stopped throbbing and I knew when my heart seemed to quicken its beat and open to any possibility that my sign had appeared. I had no idea what on earth could be in the backyard that would give me the hope I needed, but I knew it was there.


When I walked out the back door, a terrapin, dark against the green grass, waddled very quickly toward me. I was shaken up and started to back up. Every terrapin I've ever seen either gets away quickly when a human comes around or goes into its shell. This one was doing neither. When he got near, he stopped in front of me and proceeded to stare into my eyes, then blinked. He yawned a couple of times, ate a bite or two of grass, then looked back in my eyes and blinked again. I was standing there, transfixed, with tears in my eyes, realizing that once again, I had been sent a sign. It was one of many I have been sent in my life and probably my favorite because it was alive. The name Wiki came to me and he became Wiki. I followed him around the yard as he ate grass. I asked Joe if we should get turtle food. He said we should wait and see if he would stay. He looked up at me or Joe occasionally and yawned, blinked, then back to eating grass. I brought some lettuce from the fridge and put it down beside him. He wasn't impressed and went back to the grass. Then he began to waddle away. He left with a purpose, headed toward the back of the yard where we thought he might live. He had a large scar on his back. Joe said it looked to him like he'd been hit with a lawn mower at some point. We have a large yard and by the time he waddled out of sight, I was okay. The black mist had lifted and life was a good thing again. I was overflowing with gratitude for my reptilian visitor and hoping that we might see him again.

Wiki came back once more. He appeared the next day just as suddenly as he had the day before, this time in the early evening while Joe was cooking dinner on the grill. He walked up to the patio, stared at us both and began to eat grass again. He didn't stay as long this time and didn't seem as interested in being close to us. As he left, I knew he wouldn't be back anytime soon. It was as though he was through with whatever he came for. Mission accomplished.

I have thought of asking for him to come visit again, but I don't. I believe asking for signs, at least for me, has to be when I have exhausted every resource I have and still need encouragement. I am not at that point now and don't know if I ever will be again. I wonder where Wiki came from, if he was hibernating in the backyard, came from next door, or from a place we don't know at all. Wherever he came from, he was a reptilian angel to me, a message that I am noticed and loved.

Oh, I understand that there are those who will say this is a coincidence. And that's okay if they believe that. It's not what I believe. Believing in signs and symbols and angels and fairies is what give life its magic. And life without magic, to me, is a lonely thing.

Guardian of the Backyard

Feral Cat

When I came inside that first morning after Wiki had left, I remember my feral cat Frankie, who sits in the lawn chairs and hisses if you come near her, gave me her usual dirty look. She doesn't care much for me. She likes Joe and lets him pet her when he sits outside tending the grill. I feed her every morning and evening and my greeting for 12 or more years has been a hiss followed by several spits. What comes to mind as I remember her being outside that day, sitting in the chair a few feet from Wiki is that she didn't bother him at all. This is a cat who kills birds and gobbles them up feathers and all, who lies in the grass and catches the squirrels who tease her, thinking she's dozing. They too get sliced, diced, and devoured. This is the cat who defends her yard with her life against any intruder: other cats, children, possums, raccoons, etc. Yet Wiki waddled all over the yard and she never stirred. You say: It was just a terrapin. That's why she didn't bother him. Maybe so. Maybe just another coincidence.


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