What is it with me and dead birds anyway?
After our morning walk I kicked off my shoes, about to throw them into a storage cubby in our garage I noticed there was an upside down bird in the cubby. A non-moving heap of feathers all splayed out. [Big sigh.] This is the second dead bird I’ve come across in a month.
So I ushered my four-year-old past the bird and inside the house without saying a single thing and left the clean up to my husband when he got home from work. (Good, good man.)
I’m tired of death. Really it should be no big deal. It’s just a bird, but it’s a symbol of too much. Too many little things have been passing away recently. Since we’ve been home from vacation, three of the kiddos from our Cri du chat facebook group have passed away, and one was not even a baby. A harsh reminder that we have no control over the length of our lives or our kids.
Yesterday was one of the funerals. The little girl’s mom requested everyone wear bright colors in her honor. I rummaged through my closet all morning and must have changed shirts three times. I wanted to find something bright enough, hopeful enough. Nothing I chose had quite the right sentiment. How could it? The mom wanted everyone to refrain from wearing black, which I totally understand, but everything in my spirit was grieving for her and black was more the color that matched my mood. I was distracted from my kids all morning because another part of me was with this mom wondering what she was thinking and feeling after only eight months with her child. I think often of my cousin who lost her daughter just a few years ago as she was turning three. It’s just too early, too often, too much.
And just a couple weeks prior, in the middle of a feeding therapy session M and I went down to the hospital cafeteria to get a lemon for the therapist to use with N. Since I spend so much dog gone time at that hospital I know it’s halls quite well. We took a staff hallway to the main hospital. As we turned a corner we almost ran smack into a gurney. When I looked down I saw a body bag. It took my breath away. The two staff rolling it out said nothing verbally but their eye contact communicated everything I needed to know. Fortunately, M was oblivious to it all and skipped gleefully through the halls pretending to be a doctor with a special “door opening badge.” And I had to fake it for him all over again.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing a very good job with my poker face. I’m just feeling weighed down by death, by disappointment, and the drudgery of it all. And N is stable now. It’s not like I feel incredibly threatened by him passing away, although the question mark is always there way, way back in my mind.
It feels like a season of endings.
I need new life and new beginnings.
I happened to read the other night that birds symbolize our goals, aspirations, and hopes. That resonated with me deeply. As I’ve been coming across these dead birds, I’ve simultaneously felt the loss of my goals, my aspirations, and my hopes. Now that I recognize it, I’m trying to lean into the pain of it more. I’m beginning to accept that, for example, by Friday I simply cannot accomplish all the organizational and homemade meal goals I have at the outset of the week. That my aspirations for my kid to eat by mouth are still not realized. And the hopes I have for community and connection are not actualized in the same way they were before N.
So instead of focusing on the dead birds near our home recently, I need to bear witness the ones that are alive and flying high. Kathleen Deyer Bolduc in The Spiritual Art of Raising Children with Disabilities who spoke of the symbolism of birds also said that, “Cranes, in particular, symbolize happiness, maternal love, and gestures of goodwill. They are a symbol of looking out for those you love. Cranes can also symbolize a person’s strength, uniqueness, or individuality, and also persistence through challenges.”
I want to be a crane. I want to have a more willing heart to look out for my loved ones and serve them even when it’s hard and even when I’m distracted and things aren’t the way I want them to be. I want to search hard and intensely for life and newness. It’s near. I can feel it. A new school year is starting for M and he’s so excited. A new ministry is beginning as my husband and I decided to take a marriage class together. A new phase is beginning for N as he’s getting some more medical equipment – a special chair and a walker. I’m so ready for a new schedule for writing and respite and more time in the Word.
So this week my two little guys reflected new life for me. They achieved new aspirations – different from what I was expecting – and made me oh so hopeful for the future.
M planted these sunflower seeds back in the Spring and to my astonishment they grew and grew and grew! Now we can’t take too much credit because, although we did water them a bit, we had a lot of rain early this summer. I do not have a green thumb and that fact combined with the soil (if you can call it that) in our backyard, made me wonder if any new life could push forth. But it did.
Then N decided that he could hold a sitting position for nearly a minute while, sort of, playing with his toys. He really, really wants to be able to sit and explore. Or, more accurately, sit and put things in his mouth. My little oral kiddo. He did it once at therapy and once at home. So I think we are very close to him being able to hold the pose, which would be huge. Right now I have to put him in something or let him just lay on the floor in order to make dinner. I dream of him having a little more independence and being able to sit on the floor in the family room and entertain himself while I cook. He’s close. Very close.
So there’s death yes. Death of real lives. Death of dreams. But in spite of the disappointments, God’s promises of new life remain.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:8-9
“I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again you boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” Philippians 1: 23-26
My book, Beauty in Broken Dreams: A Hopeful Handbook for the Early Years as a Special Needs Parent, is now available on Amazon!
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