My grandpa always talked about how much he loved the college I went to. I think it more so stemmed from the smile on my face and the way I beamed when I talked about it than anything else. I was elated when I successfully convinced him and my grandma to join my parents and siblings in their yearly winter visit to campus during my sophomore year; the nine-hour drive was not particularly ideal, but when he set foot on my second home, his eyes widened.

His perceptions from my Facebook photos were turning into a reality. Four months later, my grandpa unexpectedly passed away from lung cancer after his chemo treatment caused his tumor to detrimentally affect an artery in his lung. One of my first thoughts as my world came crashing down on me on that Friday in June of 2015? He would never see me cross the stage on my college graduation day.

This past October, I had just wished a friend of mine a happy 21st birthday; he was a junior at the school I just graduated from in May. Soon after, he mentioned how much he and the rest of his crew missed my grade, and couldn’t wait for my renowned ‘mom hugs’ when I got back to campus for Homecoming weekend in exactly three weeks. Just 16 days later, I received a Facetime call from close soccer teammates that this friend had taken his life, that it was his turn to earn his wings. I never was able to give him my hug during that homecoming weekend.

A loss is unfathomable; the mere concept scares me quite a lot. The emotions that follow are heavy, difficult to cope with, and hard to understand. From sadness to anger, disbelief, you name it, the grieving process is not one any human being is innately good at. Despite all of this, there is one prominent concept that lifts my spirits when my heartbreak begins to falter once again.

The type communication we can still have with these now angels, even though they are a world away. Consider a penny. Yes, that copper coin you probably have jingling in your pockets, falling out of your wallet, or are disregarding in the bottom of your purse. That same coin you throw into fountains and wishing wells with hopes and dreams attached. That very coin you usually pass by on the street; well I hope you don’t walk on by any longer.

On my graduation day, my family and I were leaving a celebration at a friend’s house when my grandma stopped in her tracks. Her shoulders sank and tears began to well in her eyes as she bent down to the concrete. A penny. She put it in my hand and told me, “it’s grandpa, he is here today. And he is so proud of you.” Well, hello grandpa, I really needed you right now and I hope you're beaming that I did it, I graduated.

A few weeks ago, I had just gotten out of one of my counseling classes whose topic that evening was about patients exhibiting self-harm and those looking to take their own lives. It was not an easy lecture to get through, being it was only three months since I endured the loss of that very good friend. A pit stop at the grocery store for dinner then brought me to the self-checkout kiosk, where I found a single penny laying in the change dispenser. Another sign from a guardian angel. Hello, friend. I'm so glad I could hear from you today. I really needed it.

These instances have come at many coincidental times: finding a penny on the carpet on Christmas Eve while the song my little brother sings every year, and the same song my grandpa would listen to daily (both the little brother form and original form) played in the background of our festivities; a penny on my doorstep the night of my final soccer game; a penny on campus during homecoming as we all grieved the loss of our friend who left us too soon; a penny on the bench outside of my new campus building during the first week of graduate school.

The list goes on, the coincidences never failing to reassure that my angels are looking down on me. My worries begin to slip away because I have stumbled on a penny from heaven; a blessing, a hello, from a guardian angel who knows all will be well.

A penny is a gift from heaven; it is a sign from your guardian angel.

It is a hello on a day that you miss them the most. It is a “you’ll make it through this” when your world is seemingly tumbling down.

It is a “happy birthday” or a “you did it!” when you’re blowing out your candles or conquering another milestone. There are all sorts of signs your guardian angel may send you to let you know they are with you, all coming at the most ironic, spontaneous times, but a penny is often overlooked.

It is in these moments that solace returns to your heart and your bones; you remind yourself that this journey is by no means easy.

However, you must believe you are not alone. Your signs will come when you need them most, I promise you. So never walk by this copper coin again. Take it for what it's worth: all of the love, hugs, and direct communication your angel is sending you from the clouds.

To my personal guardian angels, thank you for your signs. I love you dearly.