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Ding! Ding!

I needed to know my husband was with us. The sign I received was evidence of God’s love.

Every year my family gathered for a week at our summer place in northern Michigan. Kids, grandkids, great-grandkids all descended on my lake house. Normally I loved gathering at the house for a week of sun, swimming, and time with my family. But this year was different. My beloved husband, Bill, had died less than a year before, after a long battle with brain tumors, and I couldn’t imagine being up at the lake without him. He’d loved that special place every bit as much as I had, all 62 years of our marriage.

But my kids kept begging me to go. I couldn’t disappoint them.

The week turned out to be better than I anticipated, full of tears and joy at all the memories of Bill (“Boppy” to his grandkids). I even found the perfect tree to place as a memorial to Bill. My son Bruce planted it near the corner of the house where Bill used to sit looking out at the lake in the evenings. After the tree was planted, my family and I gathered around it, holding hands. But standing there, I couldn’t help feeling something was missing—Bill. I hadn’t felt his presence all week.

That evening I slipped out to the patio by myself. “Lord,” I whispered, “why isn’t Bill here with me—especially now? I need to feel his presence again.”

Later that night after everyone else went to bed, my daughter Bonnie and I sat reading in the living room. A sudden noise interrupted us. Ding! We looked at each other. “What was that?” I asked. It jingled again. Ding! Ding!

“I’ll go out and see,” Bonnie said. I headed out to the patio with her. The lake was calm in the moonlight. Absolute silence. We headed back inside and went to bed, not sure what we’d heard.

A few days later it was time to shut up the lake house and head home. Bonnie drove with me to keep me company. When we got back she and I headed to my bedroom to begin unpacking. There on my husband’s nightstand was the little bell he’d used to call me in the days when he was ill. I picked it up and rang it: Ding! Ding! “That’s it!” we said in unison. The very same sound we’d heard that night at the lake house.

Bill had been there with us after all.

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