One morning on my way to work a few months back, the song “I’m Already There” by Lonestar came on the radio and took my breath away just a little bit. I was coming around the corner to the building, then I parked and sat in the dark while listening to the rest of the words.
“I’m already there
Take a look around
I’m the sunshine in your hair
I’m the shadow on the ground
I’m the whisper in the wind
And I’ll be there until the end
Can you feel the love that we share
Oh I’m already there”
Of course the song hit me as it never had before since it’s about a man missing his family and the ways he shows them he’s never completely gone. The words are perfect for me and tell the story I am living. In the first few months after my dad died, I would get to work before sunrise and was lucky enough to have a few minutes some days to walk up to the roof and look out on the soft pink and smokey blue clouds at dawn. One morning I saw birds flying among them and it felt like it was on purpose – like my dad sent them for me. I’m so thankful for the moments I feel like I’m being looked after, and for those minutes when it feels like heaven is really just barely beyond what I can see.
You know how I’ve been looking for hearts? I see them everywhere now. Yesterday I was on a hike and saw more than I can count, and brought three heart rocks home. Today that Lonestar song crossed my mind again and I thought about how whenever I see a heart, it’s like my dad is saying “I’m already there. Take a look around.”
I also see that this sentiment has reached so many of you, too. I can’t believe how you’re looking out for me. In the last month since I wrote about this heart hunt, I’ve received hearts from places as far away as Hawaii, Florida and even Japan! There have been so many I can hardly believe it. Thank you so much! The last five months or so have been the hardest of my life, but these little surprises that show up in my text and Facebook inboxes make me happy every time. I’m going to attempt to post them all here, and I apologize if I forgot any. Just know every single one has been a bright spot in my day, my week, my life – and your friendship and love means a million times more.
I’ve decided to make a public Instagram page, @huntingforhearts, where I can post hearts as I find them and as they are sent to me. The page will be for my dad and I hope it will showcase love in many unexpected ways near and far. I invite you to join in and/or follow along! I think you might be surprised at how fun they are to discover. I love hearing about the stories and places where my friends and family members have found them.
There have been so many hearts found in the last month I was able to make six collages! They are labeled below left to right, top row to bottom row.
1. My cousin Amee in Arizona sent this photo after she and her kids found a heart-shaped Cadbury egg.
2. Unfortunately, I don’t remember who sent me this photo of beautiful bleeding hearts. I love these.
3. During her vacation in Hawaii, my friend Candace found this coral heart. I’d just read that day that heart rocks are often found at beaches because they are tossed and turned. I love the analogy that love can be carved from the rough waves in life.
4. While visiting my friend Brittny in Washington in May, she showed me this picture in her apartment which contained three hidden hearts (two are pictured here).
5. My junior high and high school band buddy Christiane saw this heart in her bathroom tile the day after she read my last post. She said she probably steps on it every day. Christiane lives in Utah and came to my dad’s viewing after I hadn’t seen her in years. We’re emailing now after she sent this heart. Some friends last for life, no matter the time or distance.
6. Our friends Emilie and Garrett came to visit me and Travis from Utah over Memorial Day weekend. We were standing in line at Chipotle when Emilie noticed she was wearing a heart shirt filled with names of strong women. Emilie is one of the strongest women I know.
7. My friend Devin in Washington sent this photo from Olympia after the trees at his apartment were trimmed. It’s a heart inside a heart, he said.
8. My elementary school friend Latasha sent this heart over Facebook. She said she glanced over at her Ten Commandments plaque and saw the reflection of a heart. She also said she was glad my dad could be in her life every day now. So sweet.
1. After a Florida storm, my cousin Genevieve sent me this heart over Instagram while on vacation. I love stormy skies.
2. My friend Holly, who has been my friend for almost 10 years now, sent this heart from Virginia the day after my last post.
3. My friend Latasha sent this heart from Utah of her fuzzy heart socks. She included the hashtag #huntingforhearts which I’m now using for my Instagram posts and page name.
4. My mother-in-law Irma said she thought of me when she saw this photo of New Caledonia, which is a French territory comprised of dozens of islands. Her text came from Arizona.
5. My mom’s sweet student in Utah made this. “More hearts makes more love.”
6. My sweet cousin Katie Rae almost walked right past this ladybug one day, then had a feeling she should go back. When she took a closer look, she found a heart right behind its head. Her dad died a year before mine and when she sent her text from Utah, she said she knows our dads are watching over us. I know it too.
7. My friend Kelly said this photo is admittedly mushy, but that she wanted to send it anyway. It’s from her honeymoon in Hawaii. I want to see that rock someday if that means I’m in Hawaii!
8. This photo was taken by me last weekend while walking around our neighborhood.
9. Brittny sent this photo of heart-shaped garlic she found while making dinner with Devin one night. She says garlic is heart healthy, you know.
1. I spotted this heart on a stoplight in Seattle while visiting Brittny. We walked everywhere that day and had the time of our lives doing all the touristy things.
2. My dear friend Miranda, who has the cutest boxer in the world, sent this picture from Utah of a heart spot on her dog. His fur just grows that way!
3. Memories of sleepovers at my friend Nikie’s pond in Idaho came back to me when she sent me this heart. I love that place and thinking of the rodeo before sleeping under all those stars.
4. The other day, my lifelong friend Mindy found this perfectly-shaped chicken nugget heart while making dinner with her kids.
5. My sweet sister-in-law Melissa was having a bad day and almost sent me a text to tell me she looks for hearts everywhere and never finds them. Then she looked up and found this on her wall – a heart my brother painted in their bathroom for her a couple Christmases ago.
6. This heart comes from a Scentsy light. My friend Jamie, who used to make me laugh every day at The Herald Journal in Utah, saw it on her wall and thought of me.
7. Melissa continued to see hearts after that day she thought she couldn’t see any. She and my mom found this one in my mom’s yard one day.
8. My mom eats kid food sometimes (she is a first grade teacher after all), and one day at lunch they served her this heart-shaped chicken patty.
9. A gum heart was found on the ground in Ohio and sent to me by my good friend Mandy.
1. During the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point in Utah, my sister-in-law Jackie spotted this brick heart with my mom at The Secret Garden area.
2. One day while helping Travis in the backyard, I saw this heart rock. He turned around and wondered what in the world I was taking pictures of!
3. In Seattle, Brittny and I joined in on the Gum Wall madness and she made this cute pink heart.
4. While in Arizona for Mother’s Day, Travis, his parents and I were walking and I got so excited when I saw these cactus hearts. Pretty much anytime I see hearts I gasp and need to take pictures immediately. I’m sure sometimes this is annoying.
5. Floss fell on the ground and made this balloon-like heart. My sister-in-law Nikki sent this from Washington.
6. We went dancing for Brittny’s birthday and on the way home, I spotted this lovely piece of trash and a cigarette butt on the ground. I got really excited of course and made Brittny snap this photo. Devin was laughing at how non-glamorous this heart was. I have to admit, it was pretty funny … and I was tipsy which probably makes more sense, right?
7. Just the other day, my friend Nikie sent me a picture of her heart-shaped pizza lunch from work. Yum!
8. My friend Holly told her sweet little friend I like hearts and the girl insisted Holly take this photo and send it to me from Virginia.
9. My friend Mandy recently went to Japan on vacation with her husband and spotted this heart shape at a Buddhist temple. Wow … Japan! That was so kind of her to send it and knowing it was from a Buddhist temple, I thought Travis would love it, too.
These hearts were all captured by me on the La Luz Trail in Albuquerque, the beach in Ocean Shores, Washington, and the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo (the heart is on the giraffe’s neck).
These were also captured by me at Ocean Shores; at a coffee shop in Seattle (Brittny told the barista, “she likes hearts, so if you can do a heart, she’d like that”); the Petroglyph National Monument where I got more excited over hearts than the actual petryglpyhs; in Santa Fe right before a hike with Travis, Emilie and Garrett; in Olympia near the water in front of the Capitol Building; in the sky above the La Luz Trail (look for the bird in the clouds here, too); and at my best friend Jenn’s house on the day I met her baby.
Thanks again for making this hunt for hearts reach far beyond what I could have imagined. I will always, always, always be grateful for that.