Signs of Life

I am honored to introduce to you my dear friend, Julia. She is a talented, independent author who has graciously agreed to guest post on Links Of Courage. Please welcome this wonderful lady and open your hearts to her poignant words of wisdom.

Signs of Life by Julia M.L. Whitehead

Harrison Ford was ingenious when running from the law in The Fugitive. He disguised himself believably, and subjected himself to discomfort when necessary, to stay ahead of the detectives who sought his capture.

There is a nerve-racking point in the movie, however, when the team of detectives gets excited, knowing they have located his dwelling place. What tips them off? Orange peels and paper scraps. Signs of life.

Archaeologists have similar excitement when they come across signs of life. They painstakingly preserve even a porcelain fragment so museum onlookers may admire the story it tells.

As it turns out, coming across smelly food scraps and scattered dishes just doesn’t have the same appeal to a mother as it does to a detective or an archaeologist.

Just yesterday as I arrived home, a whiff of burnt toast told me my daughter had fixed herself a snack while I was gone. The crumbs and drippy butter left on the counter gave further evidence of her doings.

Additional “signs of life” surrounded me with each advance further into my home. I eyed shoes piled next to the bare storage rack. A damp towel lay heaped on the bedroom floor.

Suffocation was setting in.

My tired mind was awakened when I recalled a recent conversation with a friend. Her words gave me the fresh air needed to forge ahead through those hazardous hallways.

After complaining to her about how much running around and cleaning up I had to do she had replied with a refreshing reality check.

“Life would be pretty boring without my kids.”

Negativity stopped in its tracks, as I remembered her recent loss of a family member, which was sure to have contributed to her current perspective.

I suddenly saw those messy signs of life through new eyes. The crumbs on the counter came from energy-giving bread that filled the belly of my self-sufficient daughter. A towel on the floor meant my adolescent son’s regard for personal hygiene was getting there! Shoes were tossed about because of our continuous involvements in active, meaningful pursuits.

A short time later I attended the memorial service for a young friend. The experience did even more to help me see that I am blessed through the mess. Displayed in his memory were various items indicating how he enjoyed spending his time. A Rubik’s cube, some comic book volumes, and an unfinished chain mail craft project all sat on display- never to be enjoyed by this precious boy again. Images still flash through my solemn mind of his family having to gather these relics from his silent, empty bedroom.

My new understanding prompts me to look beyond the clutter on my own son’s dresser top and floor. Like a detective, I start to wonder what structures he envisions will come of those Lego piles. And I marvel that he can solve all nine of those dusty Rubik’s cubes.

Make no mistake; I do consider it my job to train all members of my household to pick up after themselves. Any parent on the planet can attest, however, that this is a challenge not quickly completed.

At times I have found myself admiring the museum-like homes of retired women who decorate with exquisite vases and see the sunrise through fingerprint-free bay windows. But museums are for halted history, and my life is in vibrant living color. The signs are everywhere, splashed across the canvas of the home where we L-I-V-E.

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About the author
 Julia M.L. Whitehead has used writing as life’s therapy ever since she popped her first pimple and didn’t make cuts for the junior high cheer squad. She joined Journalism instead! High School English from a poetry pusher helped sprout a hobby that still sees the occasional blossom. With college came a degree in Elementary Education and a love for Children’s Lit., which has broadened and deepened over fourteen years of raising five kids on weekly story time. Besides the local library, she enjoys light mountain biking, fresh salsa, and foot rubs from her husband.
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