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A Heaven-Sent Sign on the Highway

Two trucks reminded her that her beloved older brothers were always watching over her from above.

An artist's rendering of a family highway sign; Illustration by Asia Pietrzyk

I pressed down on the gas pedal, accelerating as I merged onto Highway 395. The drive to the crafts store in Norwich was a familiar one, because I was often in need of more fabric or yarn for my knitting. The midday traffic was light for my run to replenish supplies for the hats I planned to make as gifts.

As I settled into a comfortable cruising speed, my thoughts drifted to my brothers, Vic and Joseph, both of them never far from my mind. It had only been seven months since Joseph had passed away—from a genetic heart problem. He’d been sick for a while. It had been so hard to see the changes in him those last few months. He was a large man—six foot two—but he looked so small and frail in that hospital bed.

With Joseph’s death, both of my brothers were gone from this world. Vic had died four years earlier. He’d had heart problems as well. When I thought of my brothers, I was still prone to tears. My heart was hurting as I drove Highway 395.

Vic had been a truck driver for Frito-Lay. Consequently, he was the go-to uncle who provided snacks for our family gatherings, a role especially popular with his young nieces and nephews. The kids always made a scene upon his arrival, surrounding him as if he were Santa Claus on Christmas Day, his booming voice and infectious smile taking center stage.

Joe was the oldest, an electrician who was good with his hands. He seemed to always have time to do projects around the house for Mom. Nothing was too much, even after he moved out. We could rely on him for anything, and I knew that from a young age. Joe and Vic were the best big brothers a girl could ask for, always looking out for me in their own way.

As I drove, I remembered one day in particular. A bright summer day when I was about 11 years old. We were all outside—Vic, Joe, Mom and me. We must have been doing some sort of cleaning. The hose was running, and there were buckets of sudsy water in the driveway. Vic started it, I think, and a playful splash quickly devolved into a full-on water fight.

It was so unusual to see Mom join in the fun. She was a serious woman. My parents had separated, and as a single mother she had to work hard to provide for us. But on that summer day, all of Mom’s worries must have melted away. She giggled when Vic pelted her with a dripping sponge, and the game was on! Shouts and shrieks rang out as Mom ran through the yard, my brothers targeting her and each other as well. There was no ducking out of the way of a good soaking for all of them.

I had a front-row seat to the hijinks, but my brothers saw I was happiest on the sideline. By the time it was over, I was the only one who was still dry. I laughed until my belly ached. Now, my heart ached just as much.

Sighing, I glanced in the rearview mirror. A large black bus fast approached in the left lane. I kept an eye on it as it pulled up next to me. White painted letters on its side…

I gasped, gripping the steering wheel as I read the words: JOSEPH’S BUS SERVICE.

Joe. It was as if I’d cried out and he’d answered from heaven. I watched the bus roll past as another large vehicle approached from behind. This one was a white delivery truck. I recognized it immediately—a Frito-Lay truck. Just like the one Vic used to drive!

I rolled along in good company until the bus and delivery truck exited and I was alone again on the highway. But I knew I wasn’t really alone.

Yes, I missed Vic and Joseph, but they weren’t gone. My big brothers were with the angels, still watching over me, whether I was at home with my knitting projects or out on the road.

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