October 6, 2016 – I walked out of hot yoga to drive home, I pulled out my phone to 20 missed calls from various family members. When I got ahold of my older brother, with tears streaming down my face and a trembling voice, I said, “Is it over? Did it happen?” Matt quietly confirmed, “Yes, he’s gone.” For the previous 5 years, our family had been riding the rollercoaster that results from having a family member—my younger brother—fight substance abuse. As we would come to learn, his addiction, which began with abusing prescription pain pills and sleeping pills, was a result of trying to cope with his mental health conditions (severe anxiety and depression) on his own for about 10 years.
My husband, AJ, quickly packed our bags and arranged for his mother to come stay with our two young children. We jumped in the car to drive the 115 miles to my parents’ house and as we pulled out of our driveway, AJ pointed out a praying mantis sitting on the windshield just under the hood. I looked up and sort of commented and then continued with texting with various friends. About an hour into the drive up I-71, AJ noticed the praying mantis was sitting riding with us. I began to google search for the meaning of the praying mantis. I discovered this:
“The praying mantis always comes to us when we are internally craving peace, quiet, and calm in our lives. The praying mantis meaning has a variety of traits: quietness, awareness, calmness, patience, and mindfulness. Through stillness, awareness, and balance, we can hear and recognize the perfect moment. We must listen to that voice that speaks to us with openness, not fear.”
While Michael was not able to find these traits on earth, I felt that the Mantis was showing up to tell us he was well. The mantis was reminding us that Michael is all around us and also to “Be still”, which then reminds me of the Bible verse “Be still and Know that I am God.”
Fast forward two weeks later, as our family and Mike’s close Utah friends gathered outside after his services, another praying mantis appeared and hung out with us for 20 minutes. Wild! Another reminder.
Now four years later, the Praying Mantis continues to show up when we least expect it. One showed up after my first day of working at 1N5. One showed up on the day we came home from the hospital with my youngest son, and I was experiencing serious Postpartum Anxiety. And of course, one showed up this past weekend, 10/3/19, after we began to wrap up our virtual Warrior Run Celebration. Every year, we come together to celebrate all those we have lost to their mental illnesses and honor those that continue to fight against their diagnoses. Shameless plug, click here to join my team and support the work 1N5 is doing!
Back to the Mantis 🙂 While some might disagree, I feel that the Mantis continues to show up and remind us that the veil between Heaven and Earth is very thin, that Michael is truly all around us, and that he is finally at peace. I also believe that this is his not so gentle reminder to “Be Still.”