A Little Grey Eye Flutters

Gnatcatcher Bird like the one that died.

I came into work Saturday morning to find a little bird laying stunned and hurt on the cement outside the Showroom window. The bird was obviously hurt from flying into the glass panel (a common occurence) but was still holding its head up and moving its wings. It hadn’t died the quick death of a broken neck which is more often the norm. This little bird was still fighting to live, trying to move off the hot cement to the nearby shade of grass and flower beds. I watched it – fighting with myself over what to do. I understood I was going to try to help the bird even though there was little chance of it living.   

I found a clean cloth and gently moved the bird under the shade of the pompous grass at the edge of the flower beds. There wasn’t any blood visible, the wings and neck/head seemed fine, but it appeared to have damaged its legs and tail either in the hit against the glass or the fall to the hard cement. It still seemed stunned – I kept thinking it might be okay in a few minutes. It just needed to rest a minute, catch its breath. Any minute now, it would stand-up and shake-off the hit, straighten its tail, wiggle its feet and take flight…maybe?   

The salespeople walked by without a glance as they spread across the lot to put balloons on all the cars. Then, as they drifted back, each one came to see what I was doing and to ask why I was trying to help the bird. The general consensus was that I was wasting my time because “it’s just gonna die anyway.” I should take it and throw it into the edge of the woods, they said. “It’s not gonna make it.” I knew they were probably right and that everything they said was probably true, but understanding that didn’t make me less inclined to try to help the bird. I understood all the reasons I should walk away, let it go, accept it…but there was a small sliver of hope…maybe it could heal and be okay.   

I went online and read-up on helping injured wild birds, called a local animal shelter, and moved the bird into a makeshift nest of Shammy rags and shredded paper in a large box in my office. I put a small cup of water in the box. He drank from it and then snuggled into the paper pieces and went to sleep. If I could just keep him alive through the night I’d be able to take him to a wild bird care facility. Someone there would know what to do to help him recover. I did my research, followed the advice I’d received, and hoped for a miracle.   

I didn’t get a miracle. He died snuggled and perched in his makeshift nest later in the evening. The hopes and maybe’s didn’t pan out. Sometimes life works that way.   

~~~~~   

I tried to save a bird years ago. I was in first grade and found an injured black-bird outside during recess. I managed to get a box from the janitor and put the bird in it to take home. There I was, sitting in the back of the schoolbus, with a bird in a box and all the other children screaming to see. I made it home with the bird alive and squaking inside the shoebox.  

I don’t remember what was wrong with the bird, only that it was hurt and couldn’t fly. I do remember the anger and upset my grandparents had when I arrived home with the bird though. As I recall, they were very angry that I’d picked the bird up, were amazingly worried about all sorts of diseases I could get, and wanted to know why the teachers allowed me to do such a thing. It was a ruckus beyond anything I could have imagined or expected. I just wanted to help the bird.  

I don’t remember what happened to that bird. My grandpa took it with the promise of helping it for me while my grandmother scrubbed my hands with Clorox. I know…it probably died. But, I’m sure they told me it was okay and flew away…and don’t you NEVER, EVER pick up a bird again!!!  

~~~~~  

I’m sad today over the little gray bird I couldn’t save. It was an adorable and gentle creature. I know that one little bird isn’t a big deal in the real scheme of things…but, maybe it’s a big enough deal.  

I watched a huge, fat Robin sitting on my front porch steps as I drank my coffee this morning. There were dozens of other birds flying around, picking bugs from my flower beds and the yard, and eating birdseed from the feeders at the walkway. Birds everywhere – chirping, tweeting, preening, and singing the morning hello.  

I arrived at work and watched the two families of finchs feeding their babies in the nests under our store awning. There were Gnatcatchers, Wrens, and Pigeons across the side grass lots at the Dealership. More singing, preening, and rambling the lawn. There were birds everywhere this morning, but I kept thinking about the one that was missing. The one that died quietly in the sunset.  

~~~~~  

 Maybe…Hope…Maybe…Life happens…Death is part of life.  

Sometimes we get our miracles. Sometimes we don’t get them. And, sometimes, the miracle is different than we expect it to be…  

Two totally different animals look at each other. A little grey-eye flutters and a green eye meets its gaze. The two animals connect, a moment is shared, they are joined for a split second in time. Hope happens. Compassion happens. Unity happens. For a moment the world shifts . . .  

Maybe that’s the real miracle in the end.

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Regret

Regrets are bitter-bright emotional remnants that hit us with pain and sadness at each recall.

When I was younger, I ran around screaming that I would live my life in such a way as to be free of regrets. My image of the rocking chair on the porch did not have me sitting there feeling bad about the past. I perceived a more enlightened view – one in which I understood that the life I led was my own, built to create the individual I was intended to be. There was no room in the picture for sadness and regret over the past. The past was simply the pavement of the road to the future.

In that vein of thought, I quoted the catchword of the day, “Carpe Diem,” and determined that I would live bravely. I would attempt things I was sure to fail at, I would try things that seemed unusual and “not for me,” and I would be courageous when my instincts told me to fear. This philosophy led to some interesting exploits and adventures, especially during my twenties, as I rampaged through the world on my glorious mission.

But, I would “LIVE!” And, of course, I did live loudly, boldly, tenderly, and attentively for many years. I was very good about writing letters, remembering to send birthday cards, and doing minor niceties for those I knew and loved. I cooked Thanksgiving dinners for the neighbors, took in several stray and injured animals, and donated to numerous charities and worthwhile causes. I also lived vibrantly loud. My hair was the whitest-blonde available in a bottle, my magazine writing was a battle against injustice or a call-to-arms for the downtrodden, my poems spoke of grief and loss from the depths of my soul, and my relationships included people from every scale of life and living. I was trying new things, tackling new fears, overcoming old phobias, and living wide-open and unashamedly. (Dying my hair black was courageous, but BAAAD! And maybe I should have waited on the tattoo…and I probably shouldn’t have moved to Florida….) My internal fears became a propelling force moving me ever forward on the road to becoming…I was LIVING!

And, then, when I was in my late thirties, my grandmother died. It had been several years since I’d seen her. She developed Alzheimer’s disease right after our last visit. She was the second grandmother to experience the devastating disease. And, me….Miss. Courageous, I hadn’t been able to deal with the loss a second time. I had stayed away because the pain of who she had become in the illness overpowered my memories of who she’d been healthy. I needed to have the memories of the healthy, strong, wonderful grandmother she’d been. The only woman I’d ever known who I truly believed knew every answer that mattered. I lived at the other end of the state then, I was busy, life was moving forward – it was easier to pretend she was at home and life was normal for her, as it had been. She was frozen in a happy time and place in my mind.

Burying her was not as difficult as understanding that she was gone. There would never be another letter from her advising me to do the right thing and to trust God. She would never cook pigs-in-a-blanket for me again. I would never be able to drop by and talk with her about my confusion, or enjoy the beauty of her humming as we were hanging out laundry. Those things were over. In reality, they had been over for years, but they had remained a memory-possibility in my mind until the casket disappeared into the ground that rainy day.

Death has a way of ending the lies you tell yourself. It also has a way of reminding you of your own truth. I left her funeral with a sense of regret that I’d never known before. I was ashamed of my cowardice, my unwillingness to overlook my own pain to be there for her. The self-reproach was only made worse as I realized she would have forgiven me, would have understood and not been angry or hurt at my inability to see her so sick. She had a strength within that enabled her to love and forgive others unlike anyone else I’ve ever known.  I was her granddaughter, my mind screamed; I should have been that strong too.

And there it was…regret.

 

 

Silence Screams 1

True silence is the rest of the mind. -William Penn
Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.  – Pythagoras

 

The silence is much louder than I remember.

Words are a shrill hawker of the street promoting unwanted wares and thoughts roll in thundering reverberation across a mental landscape of water, air and mist. Time has an ebb and flow about it. The concrete solid state of things wavers – there is a stillness beyond that beckons, calls, whispers, pleads…soaks into tired bones and weary mucles, flows across the brokenness of heart, the tattered rags of ego. I have lived almost a year in this place where silence screams.

It started in a hotel room in Pryor, Oklahoma. A long day moving metal – selling cars – at another store, in another town. The idea hit me when I sat down on the bed – “I will not write again.” It was a simple, resigned understanding that washed through my mind and into my soul. Sadness followed the thought, a requiem to what writing had once been to me. And then, just a dull sense of loss and the knowledge that part of me would die with all the unspoken words. A better part of me somehow, in my estimate, a part that had believed in love, justice, and mercy. The niave world of letters and words and stories was something of my past, but I couldn’t see it as a realistic part of my future. The storyteller was saying goodbye.

The thought of never writing again was a foreign concept to me. I had been writing since I could write – my first poems where published when I was nine years old. I had spent years freelancing, achieving consistent yearly publication for 13 years. I had created and published two small-press magazines and edited writers working for me from all across the country. My most treasured possessions in life were pens, papers, and books.  And I had been an avid journal keeper and letter writer all of my life. “Never writing again” would have been a funny, ridiculous concept to me prior to September 2008. 

But, that night, sitting on the bed in a run-down motel, it was a concept that suddenly seemed real and logical. After all, people grow up and they change. I was about to turn 41 the next month, and I had been working 65-70 hours a week in an insane job for over four years. There wasn’t time to write anymore, and honestly, I couldn’t imagine having anything else to say. I prayed about the realization – it seemed more like that than an actual decision, and then I started thinking about all the projects I would never complete and the books that would remain unwritten. I said goodbye to the words and the person I had been when I cared so much about them.

I kissed the stories goodbye.