Since last Thursday was the first day of spring in the old Celtic world, I thought I would push the season a bit and cut some forsythia and japonica to force into bloom inside.
The buds are already swelling on some of the pieces, a sure sign that life goes on no matter the darkness.
The next day, Friday, was the anniversary of my son's death. I had to spend it alone for the first time. Not because I wanted to; Larry had an appointment at the VA in Huntington and usually I go with him because we both enjoy the drive down Route 2 along the Ohio River. But since I had this cold I thought it was not wise to carry it into that facility with so many elderly sick people around. So I stayed home.
Early in the afternoon I heard a soft thump at the door and my heart sank even lower. I knew what it was: a bird had flown into the glass even though I'd stuck paper hearts on it to prevent that very thing.
I went out to look and there was a little black-capped chickadee on the mat in front of the door. He was still alive, thank goodness. I picked him up gently to see if he was hurt but he looked all right. I didn't want to leave him by the door where the cats could get at him, so I put him in a tall planter, out of feline sight.
I worried about the cold. I know birds keep warm by moving, fluffing their feathers and eating a lot. It was under 20 degrees, bitter cold. How long could he survive without moving? I checked on him every five minutes; if he hadn't flown in 20 minutes I had a box ready for him in the house, where I planned to add some feed and a little water if need be. One bird out of thousands might not seem worth the trouble, but while life is present, can we ever give up? On what was to be my last check before bringing him inside, he was gone. He was apparently just stunned and took a bit to sort himself out. What a relief.
And how like me he was. Every year on this anniversary it's like hitting that glass door where I can see through to the memories of my son and every year I slam right into those memories on this date. Not to say it doesn't happen at other times, but this one is predictable. And like that little bird, I am stunned and laid low for a bit, but eventually dust myself off and go on. Because to stay in that place surely means the death of joy and of who I am at my core.
So, on we go. The buds are continuing to swell and soon there will be flowers. The little chickadee will go on to nest and raise young. I will plant gardens and tell stories. Life goes on, and so must we.
Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.