Noah would have been 4 years old on July 31st, 2012. It is a day that is, to put it mildly, bittersweet. While we like to celebrate the day he came out into the world, it is also the day we lost him.

noahs dollarlost sole[wp_geo_map]

Upon going back out to the van at McGuire's that day to grab Nora's water bottle I came across this shoe, Lost Sole #444, in the parking lot. And it did not dawn on me to see what number it was until I just uploaded it. The first time I was at McGuires posting a dollar for Noah just after he passed, my phone's clock stopped on 5:50 pm. The exact time I posted the dollar. When I researched the meaning of 550, I found it considered a powerful number used by angels to say that even though things seem to be going all wrong, everything is going according to plan and that you are being looked over. Well I decided to check on 444. And I found that 444 is thought to be a very powerful number. It is believed to express that your angels are by your side and want the very best for you. They are asking that you pay attention very carefully to the signs that you see around you. This may come in the form of a music song on the radio. So maybe Noah made his presence known in another way than his song. It would not be the first time he has used one of my Lost Soles as a tool to communicate.

On this day we have a ritual we have started from the time we lost him, and that was to place a dollar bill with his name on it at McGuire’s Irish Restaurant and Bar. In previous years, everytime we did it we heard the “Noah’s Ark” song play on the restaurants speakers. It was uncanny and always made us feel like he was watching and appreciated what we did for him. So this year, we secretly hoped it would happen again. I placed the dollar bill on the wall and nothing happened. No Noah’s Ark song about the unicorns and green alligators played :( Sadness came over us. Was he no longer with us? Did we imagine the other times we more than a coincidence? In our hearts we know he is with us, just sometimes it is nice to have proof so to speak.

The next thing we do every year to honor him is the releasing of balloons on the beach with notes to him. This year we wanted to do something different and use flying lanterns. But of course, life sometimes gets busy, and we forgot to order them online as they do not sell them anywhere in town. SO the other choice was to build some using instructions found online. Seems easy right? Not.

First, cutting and glueing tissue paper is tough enough, then to wrap the ends around a wire from without tearing is brutally hard. I did finally assemble one and went to test it out. I wanted to make sure the flame would be big enough to heat the air and get it all to rise. So I wadded up a good amount of candle wick, poured backyard torch fuel on it, and attached it to the middle of the wire frame bottom.

Once outside the wind was blowing a little and caused the tissue paper to collapse a bit on one side. So when I lit the flame, it caught the side of the tissue paper and with a Whoosh!! The whole thing ignited like the Hindenburg and while it did lift up, it fell quickly once the entire thing was engulfed and destroyed. Thankfully it did not ignite anything where it landed. But Nora, who had been anticipating the test flight as she patiently watched me build the lantern for an hour, was pretty let down. But being the young eternal optimist wanted me to try again.

So I built another prototype, but the wind was picking up even more and I knew it would end up the same way. We settled on getting balloons again, and then tie a length of wire to the end of the string with the wadded up candle wick at the end doused in torch fuel. At the beach, it was very windy but we got the balloons lit and released. At first the wind just dragged them across the sand, but eventually they lifted up. Nora got a real kick out of watching her dad chase the ballooons trying to get them to lift in the air. The flames burned for a long time on them, and we could see them fly higher and higher until either they went into clouds or burned out.

Next year we will be better prepared and purchase actual lanterns and try them out. And of course we will place another dollar up for Noah with always the hope he lets us know he is with us.

That day always gets me thinking of what could have been. What would life be like had he made it? Well we probably would not have Nora as we for sure were stopping after one. And I cannot imagine if we did not have Nora in our lives. I guess I would not go back in time and change anything, because it is not my place to do so. What has happened has happened. I accept it and live with it. I am at a happy place in my life so even if I could go back, even the slightest shift in anything would not bring me to this point. Say I went back and avoided losing my stuff to Hurricane Ivan. Then Sharon and I would not have been in a motorhome. We may never have conceived Noah because the only reason we did is because we were on the road and could not refill Sharon’s birth control. We did not want children initially. It was not until we had Noah come into our lives that we knew we wanted to be parents. So without discovering that love through him, and losing him, we would not have gone on to have Nora. And life without Nora in it, seems so void that I cannot even fathom it.

Going back and changing anything would be like choosing between Noah and Nora, and that is thankfully a choice I never have to make because in my heart and soul I have both.