My Aunt JD had been a steadfast pillar of support in my life since I was just six years old. With my mother ensnared in the grip of addiction, it was JD who took on the role of a loving and nurturing mother figure, guiding me and my younger brother through our formative years. She was the rock upon which our family leaned, the one we could always count on.
On the day of my 40th birthday, a somber call shattered our world. JD had been found lifeless in her apartment. Not even 60 years old, a sudden stroke had snatched her away, leaving our family engulfed in grief. The one who had always been our steady foundation was gone and our collective strength faltered.
Amidst the sorrow of our loss, we also faced the daunting task of making arrangements for JD’s passing. Burdened with double shifts at work, every spare moment was consumed by these painful responsibilities thrust upon me. Overwhelmed and emotionally drained, I nevertheless navigated the maze of funeral preparations as best I could.
During one of my countless visits to the funeral home, I sat in my car in the parking lot, with tears streaming down my face. I gripped the steering wheel, feeling as though my entire world was disintegrating. Exhaustion consumed me and the longing for the love and reassurance JD had always provided intensified the ache in my heart.
In the midst of my despair, a profound serenity suddenly descended—a familiar calm, reminiscent of the day JD had opened her home to my brother and me when we were just children. It was the same comforting presence I had always felt in her company. Amidst my tears, I summoned the courage to utter the words aloud, “Are you here, JD?”
Silence greeted my question.
With a heavy heart, I blinked away my tears and directed my gaze through the windshield. There, before my disbelieving eyes was the license plate of the car parked in front of me with the words “I AM JD.” I took a photo of this miraculous sight.
In that extraordinary moment, I felt a surge of reassurance, as though my beloved aunt’s spirit had responded to my call. Though physically absent, her presence lingered, bridging the aching void her sudden departure had left in its wake. It was a reminder that the bond we shared transcended the boundaries of life and death, and her enduring love would forever guide me.
Aunt JD’s message on that license plate became a cherished emblem—and carried me through the wrenching tasks of planning the funeral I so hoped would appropriately honor and celebrate her too-short life, as well as the months of handling the wrap-up of her affairs.
Amidst feeling like a part of her indomitable spirit seemed to enter me that day, helping shape me into a more solid individual, that license plate was a tangible testament to the eternal connection we shared. Even in her absence, her spirit was offering solace when I needed it most.
It was a gentle reminder that though life may be fleeting, the love and influence of those who have touched our hearts endures, forever guiding us on our journey. Quite simply, that license plate changed my life.