My dad passed away almost four years ago. It’s still hard to believe. And I still cry if I think about it too much. He was my superhero – the one I could always turn to and count on. He knew when I needed him even if I didn’t ask. Most of time, actually, when I wouldn’t ask. He knew when to call. When to send a little note in the mailbox. When to leave poems on my pillow. He knew when to tell me things were going to be okay. He did that my entire life – and he continues to do so today.
I have a pretty strong sense of the afterlife. Sometimes stronger than I want – usually because I get scared and look the other way. But there are times when there is a stronger presence in the room, the air. I used to get anxious about it or think I was weird. For example, many years ago, I saw my aunt in my brand-new kitchen. She was standing there, arms crossed, looking over the room. She looked at me, smiled and nodded. I had her approval. She had died two years earlier. It used to worry me when I had those experiences. Now I look forward to them.
Last week, my mom sent me an email. Now, this is a very rare occurrence. She is not one to send spam or chain emails. She either doesn’t check her emails or when she does, doesn’t remember how to forward one. But last week, she sent one titled “Shoulder Taps.”
I opened the email curious to what she may have sent, half-anticipating an old lady joke or something political. But it wasn’t a joke or something for the trash. Instead, it was a video of a man talking about the moment he received a shoulder tap. The moment in life your gut tells you do something or say something. It’s usually to do or say something nice to someone you don’t know.
The universe or God or Buddha, whoever or whatever you believe, does “shoulder tap”. I honestly believe this. The moment you look up only to see someone struggling to reach something off a high shelf. Or seeing someone with a very distant look that just happens to have a great haircut or that person that needs a friendly smile or a smile returned to them. Or the mom who looks just exhausted and needs a little encouragement that she’s doing a great job or to simply be told how pretty she looks.
We need to listen. We need to notice. We need to be aware of our shoulder taps. Offer a little piece of humanity. We all go so fast in life. Day in. Day out. Mark it off the calendar. Yesterday is over, thank goodness! But wait. Let’s think about that. Yesterday is over. Are you really glad? It will never return. And, why? So we can get to closer to our next vacation? The weekend? Christmas? Did you do anything yesterday to be grateful for or to even to remember? I made dinner – a rare event. I am proud though – and it was pretty good. But I didn’t have a shoulder tap – or none that I noticed anyway.
I want more shoulder taps. I want to think I made someone’s day a little better; a little brighter. Smile at the guy driving next to me. Talk to the lady in the check-out line. Connect, even just for a brief moment, to a stranger. Let them know… it’ll be okay. My mom sent me that email. Or did she? Was it really a shoulder tap from my dad? Did he tap her in order for her to send it to me? I like to think so.