When I see a cardinal flying around me, I believe it is a little ‘sign’ of Andy. I have many stories of cardinals, including two recent ones that came just when I needed them. Friends of mine who are bereaved parents have similar stories of things that remind them of their children. Seeing hearts in nature, rainbows, and the colors orange and purple are just a few of them. Now I have another thing to add to the list – pacifiers. Yes, pacifiers.

I have spoken to a lot of dads over the past four years, but Vincent’s Dad may be the proudest dad I have ever met. As a 33-year-old first time dad, Trent was ready to be a father. From the first moments of pregnancy, Vincent was treasured. Trent took hundreds of pictures of Vincent over his four months of life. Shortly before Vincent died of SIDS, Trent and Vincent played a little game together. Trent would put his pacifier in Vincent’s mouth and then Vincent would quickly try to spit it out. Trent would push it back in and Vincent would start to spit it out again. On and on this little game continued much to the delight of both father and son.

The day that Vincent died was devastating for this new young family. There would be no new pictures and no more fun father-son games. Just as suddenly as the joy of fatherhood entered his life on the day Vincent was born, all of this joy was suddenly snatched away. Trent was in shock as he drove into the empty parking lot of the funeral home that would help the family care for Vincent’s body. As he pulled into a spot, he spotted something in the middle of the parking space. He quickly stopped and jumped out of the truck. One word that came out of his mouth – Vincent. He bent down and picked up a pacifier. This was not just any pacifier, mind you. It was the exact type, color and size of Vincent’s pacifier.

Now several months later, Trent still keeps that pacifier close by. It is a reminder of Vincent and the joy of fatherhood. It is a reminder of every precious day that Trent had with his son. Now, every time I see a pacifier, I too, will think of baby Vincent and his amazing dad.

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