This post is an extract from Oprah.com – 11 Unbelievable trues stories of moments when the universe is speaking to you – by —Michelle Wildgen
Life sends us serendipities; it drops little miracles into our laps. You hear your college sweetheart’s favorite song, turn the corner and run into him. You lock your keys in your car at the gas station and see your roommate at the next pump. That’s grace, but there is another kind, too—a subtler kind that heralds the beginning of something, or simply brings unexpected delight. That bad restaurant? The guy in line for the bathroom will turn out to be the man you marry. That vending machine? It’s going to give you an extra Kit Kat.
Who offers these gifts? God, the universe, dumb luck, a metaphysical entity that occasionally rigs a vending machine? Whatever the answer, one thing is certain: The world is marvelously mysterious. Grace shows up now and again to remind us of this.
It is a blessing that can’t be earned, only received. You’d get nothing done if you went around watching for miracles all the time. But you’d do well to stay alert enough to see them out of the corner of your eye.
Justine Blau’s poetic encounter with her mother’s memory
I was waiting to be seated at Manhattan’s Cafe Lalo two years ago when I noticed, inscribed on a tile wall, a poem titled “To Be Alive.” It was dated 1976, and signed by my mother.
As a child I’d lived in fear of her uninvited appearances. She was a restless, troubled soul, a volatile force in my life at the best of times. As kids, my brothers and I moved in and out of hotels, occasionally spending nights in 24-hour coffee shops or on the subway. Once, my mother and I slept in the ladies’ room of a funeral parlor. When I was 11, a court took me away from my mother, but she disobeyed visiting rules, showing up unannounced at the group homes where I was placed, demanding to see me. After she kidnapped me from one of them, she was arrested and briefly placed in a mental hospital. For decades she wandered New York City, bartering poetry for coffee and slices of cake.
And here she was, almost ten years after her death, arriving unannounced once again.
I spoke to the café manager and was stunned when she told me her fourth-grade daughter had memorized the poem for a class assignment. I called the owner, who said he had never met my mother and wasn’t sure how her work had made its way to the restaurant. He told me his name was Haim, the Hebrew word for “life.” It’s also my grandfather’s and my son’s. Life—its wonder, its beauty—was something my mother cherished. Her poem begins, “It’s good to be alive / To laugh and love and thrive.” On my way out, I noticed that “To Be Alive” is printed on the café’s takeout menu. I searched for the poem online and found that it also lives on many inspirational blogs and cancer-support websites.
My mother often left me shaken and afraid. But discovering that to some she is a source of wisdom reminded me of the gift she had given me: a passion for life. And it’s good to be alive, to laugh and love and thrive.