The plans were set for a 9-day adventure with my sister. The excitement and anticipation were building. I had to pack carefully as our travels would cover different elevations and therefore different temperatures. The plans were to cover many miles and to experience as much as we could. After hours of traveling by plane and shuttle, I finally arrived at my sister’s house. The time had come and our excursion would begin the next morning.

It has been over 7 years since Clint’s death and I often find myself speaking in a prayerful way to the heavens in hopes that he will hear me. This time it was more of a plea. The talk went something like this, “Well, Clint, it has been a while since I have felt your presence….if you are still here send me a sign…..(I revised this plea as I continued.)….send a sign that I will know it is you…….send a sign in the way of a heart to me. No, wait a minute, send the sign to Aunt Misty…..that way I will know it is real and not just my own wishful thinking.” So my final plea was for Clint to send a sign through nature in the shape of a heart that my sister would spot first and then bring it to my attention. I would secretly hold this request in my heart.

Most of our days during the trip were filled with activities that occupied by mind so the thoughts of Clint’s message were pushed to the back. We were busy traveling and experiencing new things, but as each day came to an end, I would briefly think of the requested heart sign. Just before drifting off to sleep, I would invest my hope into the next day.

Now the trip was closing and we were making our way back to my sister’s house. I was beginning to give up on my connection sign. My physical and emotional strength were fading. Despair and disappointment were settling into my heart. The trip had be fantastic and we had encountered an abundance of nature’s beauty and magnificent wildlife, but my heart was longing for my sign.

During this adventure we had viewed many large groups of animals: elk, deer, yak, sheep, prairie dogs, goats and wild ponies. So at first, I took little notice of a lone horse standing in the middle of the vast reservation land. I first saw this horse in this distance, as I continued to look I took notice to the beauty of this horse. He was an amazing brown horse with a few white spots. I don’t remember if I pointed the magnificent creature out to my sister or if she spotted it herself, but I will never forget my sister shouting out, “Did you see the heart pattern on the horse? One of the white spots was in the shape of a heart.” I had looked at the animal, but I had not seen the heart until that moment.

I started to cry with a mixture of joy and sadness. I had to take a few minutes to compose myself before I could explain to my sister the reason for the sudden burst of tears. We both sat in silence as we continued along our journey taking in the love and the special connection. Times like this bring a type of joy and reassurance in spite of the great sadness. I know that Clint will always live in my heart.

Debra Reagan

Debra Reagan lives in East Tennessee with her husband of 33 years. They have one surviving son. Debra is the co-founder of Listening Hearts, a non-profit corporation designed to help bereaved mothers. After some turbulent and confusing experiences, her youngest son, Clint, received the dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and a drug addiction. Their lives changed forever when Clint died on August 6, 2005, at the age of 20 of an accidental overdose and bronchial pneumonia. Debra can be reached through the website she maintains for her son at Debra was a guest on the radio show “Healing the Grieving Heart” talking about “Getting Through Mother’s Day.” To hear Debra being interviewed on this show by Dr. Gloria and Dr. Heidi Horsley, click on the following link:

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