A few weeks before Owen died, a mama bird made a nest in the eaves of the roof above his bedroom. I don’t know what kind of bird she was, just that she flew like a bird, and made a nest for her babies. Owen could hear her working away on the construction of her new home, the pecking, scratching, and rearranging necessary to make a comfortable place for birthing and babies. He said she was tapping away at all hours of the day and night. She made for a loud and obvious presence, and he couldn’t believe a bird that size (she was about 6 – 8 inches long from beak to tail feathers) could make such a noise. From our balcony – the one we called Chicago, because it was always windy – we watched her flying to and from the roof to gather building materials, the sticks and twigs of bird nests.

About two weeks later, he noticed a tiny hole in the ceiling of his room. He watched it over the next few days, and the hole grew. The mama bird worked so hard, she pierced not only the roof, but the ceiling in the corner of his bedroom. Each day, the pile of nature’s fallout grew larger on his floor. He was mesmerized by this event. He talked about it daily – the tapping, the scratching, the falling debris.

The Sunday morning before he went missing, Owen and two of his friends met me on the deck for coffee. We talked about the bird, who by this time, had hatched her babies. They knew, because they could hear the tiny tweeting sounds, and as we talked, we looked up to see the babies take their first flights. They didn’t fly far. Just a few beats of their wings, then a return to camp, to home. All of us smiled, laughed a bit, and found joy in the new life before our eyes. We resumed our coffee-drinking ritual, and wondered what, if anything, we should do about the hole in Owen’s bedroom ceiling. Nothing, was the consensus.

On what would have been Owen’s 21st birthday, June 13, 2007, with him gone for about two weeks by then, I climbed his stairs to clean his bedroom. It seemed like the right thing to do. Mama bird and her babies had vacated their nest, and Owen’s room was silent. As I picked up his clothes, changed the sheets on his bed, and ran my hands over his belongings, my eyes caught on the ceiling, and I cried. I had cried so much by then, and since, it didn’t strike me at first, that I was crying for both – new life and life lost.

It strikes me now. It strikes me often. New life and life lost. One and the same. The cycle, the circle, nature’s gift, nature’s fallout – all visible in a bird’s nest, and in a pile of sticks and twigs on Owen’s floor.

Owen loved birds. He loved ravens, especially – it was right. He was one. He’s home now. The owl escorted him to his place among his ancestors. The eagle and the hawk protect him, from above and below…all flying, all free, all home.

Song for the night: The Eagle and The Hawk, John Denver


~ by Linda on October 15, 2008.

6 Responses to “Home”

  1. I SO relate to this, especially today. After visiting with my mom (in the nursing home) for several hours this afternoon, and realizing that she didn’t remember anything about our talk a couple of days ago, concerning the choices we have to make about her living arrangements, I was devastated. I have been told by the staff that she doesn’t retain information, and yet I had not experienced it as poignantly as today. The relief we felt the other night (after finally discussing the options with her), evaporated this afternoon in the hall, as I pushed her wheelchair by our favorite male nurse. She happily called out, “I’m going home in about 3 weeks.”

    (Another break in my already broken heart.)

    As I left the nursing home this evening, I was in a mindless place, and as I talked with my husband from my car, I broke down. I wondered how much worse this memory loss was going to get, and how quickly it would progress. How long would she remember me? Tears filled my eyse, and I cried with occasional loud sobs. It was just too much.

    On the way home, I had to go by Walmart, and pick up some of my many meds from the pharmacy. Feeling as I did, I wasn’t at all in the mood to be sociable. I was still fighting back the tears.

    But an adorable, chubby-cheeked little girl walked up to her mother, who was standing in line in front of me. Her face was captivating, and she seemed filled with all the wonder and excitement of living that I have lost. I asked how old she was, and she proudly held up 4 fingers. I was surprised, because she was quite tall. Her mother shared that her 5th birthday was Saturday, and then the little girl asked her mother to show her (by counting on her fingers), just how many days that would be.

    “How exciting to have a birthday so soon! That will be so much fun”, I said. (I was actually feeling a little thrill just watching her delighted face, that could not hide her sheer happiness.)

    And like you, (at the sight of the bird’s nest), I was reminded that life goes on, in spite of where we are in it. Old people die(and sometimes young), and babies are born, and the rest of us are somewhere in between. And for all the bitterness that life can bring at times, it is also filled with simple beauty. And all the tragedies that it affords, cannot take away the inspiring moments…

    I know that God made it this way, to give us a reason to go on living–to give us hope. In my better moments I treasure this truth…

  2. Yes, a life lost and yet life bursting out all around you.

    It’s bloody ironic. As Alanis Morissette would agree.

  3. Linda,
    Thanks for the video. My husband was Native American and it seemed that where ever we would go, a hawk could be sighted. When we moved here, there was a hawk that would sail over the fields. My husband would say, “There is my Hawk””
    I haven’t seen the Hawk since his death…I keep looking…
    Thanks for sharing your pain and sharing the wonderful music…

  4. Linda,

    I so love this post on so many different levels. You write so beautifully. i feel your pain. But I feel your joy too – still there waiting…
    I wonder if I may quote a few line from my novel that sums up how I feel having read this post:

    We are the same
    We come from that same magical place
    To share the same journey
    towards the self same destination
    We are of the same tribe.

    Best wishes …

  5. Hi, Linda. I’m still out here. Sorry not to stop by in a while, but I’m glad to see you writing more. This is a beautiful post, full of thoughtfulness and wisdom…as usual. Life and death so intertwined. Yes.

  6. The music of Annie Lennox. Especially her Medusa CD, song # 8. It states it all for the wrongful death of my brother, Dave, 46.

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