The Numbers Game

I’ve never had an appreciation for numbers. For the most part, I avoid all things math: equations, percentages, fractions, decimals. I find math to be extremely unforgiving: rigid, final. In contrast, words, which I’ve always had a natural inclination towards, were easy and effortless. A possibility of ‘maybes.’ A series of suggestions, rather than just correct or incorrect. Words can twist, turn, shift, and change, and yet still arrive at a satisfying conclusion.

This sentiment remained until I met my husband, Andrew. He was a numbers guy. Put him in front a series of Excel spreadsheets and off he went. Deducing, adding, subtracting, and finalizing. Always to find the bottom line. It was through him and with him that I slowly began to change my perspective about numbers. This being a gift some of us might miss if we don’t realize the opportunity: To be present and open to learning from your partner. You may not necessarily appreciate the delivery or the journey, but if you allow for it, you will learn. To this end, I believe that to learn is to live. I was fortunate to have learned so very much from Andrew. Even though he’s no longer here, I think I still continue to learn from him.

It was a while after his passing that I began to sense that he was speaking to me through others. Mostly, interestingly enough, were through people I had just met or were just getting to know. I found it to be equally fascinating and puzzling. I would be having a mundane conversation, when in an instant, they would say something that I would only hear Andrew say. They were his words. His expressions. Mostly, it was benign, inconsequential, but I think in his easy manner, it was his way of letting me know that he was still with me.

Since this time, I have moved twice in five months. Big, life-altering moves. All moves are life-altering, to a certain degree, but with three young children, all of whom myself included, still processing the loss of Andrew, a much bigger proposition. In my mind, I very much knew that Andrew wanted me and the kids to be happy. In my attempt to carve out a new path, a fresh start, and to glean out some sense of joy without Andrew, the children and I shifted about, trying to find it. Eventually, we moved to Florida. All the way from California. I felt a strong need to be closer to family and to weave back together a fabric of support and love. The very touchstones of what brought the most joy to Andrew. Intuitively, I knew that this latest move would ignite his spirit, but little did I know in what profound ways. Eventually, he communicated it to me. Only, this time, it was through numbers.

The number 40 happens to be, I recently learned, a very symbolic number for Guardian Angels. Not all of us might ascribe to the afterlife or to angels, but I ask you to simply consider the possibility: The number 40 is a symbol of encouragement. In times of doubt, change, and uncertainty, it is said that the number 40 is sent to tell someone that they are on the right path. I will share that I have beat myself up about moving. Add to this, dissolving a struggling personal relationship, my first since Andrew’s passing, but with someone that I still very much care about. I also had to sever several newly established professional ties, all while transitioning my three children through a mid-year school change. It was an emotionally taxing ride, but one that I sensed that we needed to take.

Despite this, I remained confused and consumed with uncertainty and guilt. However, I began to notice a shift shortly after the kids and I arrived in Florida. It was then that the number 40 started to show up around me.

For example, it’s in our home unit number. This number also being a reference to Andrew’s birthday, which was January 14th (01-14). More telling, it was the only unit available in the building where I wanted the kids and I to live. The same building where my father and step-mother reside. Forty is the only number on my assigned Florida license plate. It’s in our street address number and in our zip code. Finally, upon recently joining a private club, it was the member number I was assigned.

There are many secrets behind the number 40. It represents change and transformation. It’s also commonly found in Biblical texts. Interestingly, my children now attend a Catholic school, for the first time, ever. Christianity often uses the number 40 to designate important time periods. The Bible was written by 40 different people. Forty is a symbol of divine encouragement. In my eyes, Andrew was divine, and he remains so as he continues to uplift me in the most remarkable and profound of ways.

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