A Dime for your Thoughts

By Christy Heitger-Ewing

“Where are you, Mom?” I whispered into the wind. “I need to feel you, but I don’t know where to find you.”

My mother and I were best friends. She understood me in a way no one else ever could. She comforted me no matter how heavy the world seemed at any given moment. Her hug, hearty laugh and tasty homemade honey wheat bread were all sprinkles of magic that lit up my world and made it worth living. So when my precious mom slid into the depths of clinical depression – a vicious monster that snuffed out her life, for a good long while I felt like my own life was snuffed out, too. Flattened by grief, I struggled to breathe, to move, to function. As the months passed, I took baby steps forward, but an insatiable emptiness still consumed me. I wanted to feel her presence so that I could inhale a moment of peace. But try as I might, her presence wasn’t there.

One day I came across the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), an organization that raises awareness about suicide prevention programs. Each year they hold an overnight event in which participants walk 18 miles through the night to represent the darkness those feel who are suffering with clinical depression. This Out of the Darkness walk starts at sunset and concludes at the break of dawn to signify the importance of bringing the stigma of mental illness out of the dark so that those suffering can feel safe seeking help.

“Maybe if I do this walk, I’ll connect with Mom,” I thought. Plus, it would be a chance to meet others who had lost a loved one to suicide.

Several months later, armed with my decorated luminary bag that was covered with photos of me and Mom, I flew across the country to participate in the walk. At registration, participants dropped their luminaries with the AFSP staff, who, during the night, lit them and set them out along the path to the finish line. Participants then reunite with their luminary at the event’s completion.

I envisioned returning from the walk, finding Mom’s luminary, kneeling beside it and feeling an immediate connection. That’s what I wanted. That’s why I came.

As I waited for the opening ceremony to begin, I felt a light tap on my shoulder.

“Hi. I’m Deb,” a 50-something bubbly brunette said. “Is this your first Overnight?”

“Yeah,” I replied, reaching out my hand. “I’m Christy.”

“Are you walking alone?” she asked.

I nodded. I must have looked like a lost puppy.

“Why don’t you join me?” she offered.

As Deb and I ticked off the miles, we exchanged stories about our losses. I learned that Deb’s daughter, Liz, had taken her life five years earlier when she was just 18. I told her about Mom and how much she meant to me. Deb had lost her only daughter. I had lost my only mother. We bonded over shared grief.

At mile marker 6, the skies opened up, as did our hearts.

“Mom and I were so close,” I told Deb. “When she died, I lost my confidant.”

“It was the same with me and Liz,” Deb said. “Life forever changed.”

“Do you still feel her with you?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Deb replied.

“How so? Do you get signs from her that indicate she’s trying to communicate with you?”

“I do. Have you ever heard of Dimes from Heaven?”

I shook my head.

“Finding dimes is a common sign from a spirit that shows validation that we’re on the right path. It’s their way of saying, ‘Hey, I’m still here!’” Deb explained. “I find dimes all the time now, and I never did before Lizzie died.”

We continued our waterlogged journey, dodging mud puddles and navigating slippery streets. Around 3:30 a.m., we wearily crossed the finish line, drenched and exhausted.

Within a few minutes, Deb found her daughter’s luminary, but I couldn’t locate Mom’s. The bags were smeared, streaked and soggy from the rain, but I still wanted to find Mom’s and clutch it to my chest. My feet ached and my back stiffened. Nevertheless, I kept searching. I hadn’t flown 2,300 miles and walked for eight straight hours with nagging plantar fasciitis pain to be denied the emotional release of reconnecting with my mom. After 30 minutes of hunting, however, hope waned.

“The staff must not have set it out,” I whimpered, angry, frustrated and heartbroken. I needed my mom. Where was my mom?

“I give up,” I mumbled as I hugged Deb goodbye.

“I know you’re upset, but I promise your mom is with you. I just know it,” Deb said.

Tears streamed down my face. Defeated, deflated and depressed, I started the lone walk back to my hotel room with red burning eyes. I wiped my cheeks with the sleeve of my jacket and prepared to cross the deserted road when suddenly I noticed something shiny lying in it. I squinted to make out the object, then gasped when I realized what it was. There, glistening in the streetlight, was a shiny wet dime. I picked up the coin, ice cold from the rain, and pressed it to my cheek.

I had found her. I could feel her. I clutched the dime to my chest and inhaled deeply. Then, melting into the moment, I exhaled into a glorious moment of peace.

About this writer

  • Christy Heitger-Ewing

    Christy Heitger-Ewing

    Christy Heitger-Ewing is an award-winning writer and columnist who pens human interest stories for national, regional and local magazines, has contributed to over a dozen anthologies and is the author of Cabin Glory: Amusing Tales of Time Spent at the Family Retreat (www.cabinglory.com). She lives in Indiana with her husband, two sons and two cats.

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10 Responses to “A Dime for your Thoughts”

  1. Anna Riley says:

    So glad you found that dime at the end of your walk :) Thoughts with you and thanks for sharing.

    • Christy Heitger-Ewing says:

      Thanks, Anna! It was sweet relief finding that dime, and since then I’ve come across probably 4 dozen dimes. Each time feels like a hug from heaven. :)

      • Anna Riley says:

        Oh, that is awesome!! I lost my sister over six years ago. Kati Perry’s firework song on the radio is my sign from my sister from heaven! It’s a great feeling to get those hugs from heaven! xo

  2. Linda O'Connell says:

    Your story was very moving. i too have found those “special dimes” that make me feel connected.

    • Christy Heitger-Ewing says:

      I’m so glad to hear that! The pang of loss is so great that I’m relieved we get these messages from our loved ones. :)

  3. Rose Ann says:

    Such a lonely road to travel yourself. So glad you found your connection to your Mom. Your essay is beautifully written and touches my heart.

    • Christy Heitger-Ewing says:

      Thanks so much, Rose Ann. I appreciate your kind words. This is why I love to write–to touch others and create connections that can help us through life’s journey. xo

  4. Susan Yanguas says:

    What a beautiful, moving story! And well told.

  5. A lovely piece. I have also participated in Out of the Darkness walks for family members and others. I wish this horror on no one. But your piece is a lovely tribute to your mom and a way that you can share your truth and your pain with others who need it. Amy

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