Friday, April 9, 2010

Just let the bird build a nest.

Hello friends!  

It has been too long.  And I have to tell you, I am very emotional writing this post.

I've had a house guest all this week.  She is impeccably neat and well-kept, but holy Moses and the bush that burns, she is loud as all get out in the morning.

Here she is...

Can you see her?  There in the middle sporting one of spring's bolder style choices - the brilliantly orange-hued beak.  She sits there, elegant as pearls on a philanthropic debutante, mocking me by her very being... Ahh Kristen, so simple in your blue jeans and toddler-level digital camera. Don't fret, one day you'll wear color too. Oh yes you will.. beige is a color... to some...

Gah! humbling nature, how you best me.

She arrived on Monday morning, startling me right out of a lazy spring break sleep.  There was a timed, almost methodical sound of something hard hitting a window across the house.  At first I thought I was under attack by an unruly brigade of agitated chipmunks recently put out by the annual grooming of the neighboring treeline, fueled by the quest for social justice, and violently adept with an acorn. It was also quite possible that hubs forgot his keys, yet again, but I figured if that was the case he would come to his senses and throw stray objects at the bedroom window instead of the kitchen.  I mean.. it's 8am on a Monday morning and I have no plans or outside commitments.. do you not know me at all?

But it was not hubs and the sound persisted and soon the dogs were barking out of control, anxious to defend our home against all enemies, wild and domestic.  So I stumbled, bleary-eyed but looking fabulous (pssht, not), from the boudoir to the room where we keep the good, good coffee and there she was, a ravishing lady cardinal perched on the tip of a branch, wings bulked in grim determination.  

And then... PLUNK!  She flew right in to the window, appearing to charge directly at me.  I swear it just about stopped my heart.

She was fine though.  Hovered for a bit, flapping those wings with impressive fervor, before settling back on her branch.  Every 7 minutes or so she would try again and I sat in a chair watching her for an hour, totally and completely bawling into a steaming hot cup of Columbian roast.

My grandmother, my Mom-Mom, was the most incredible, gracious, accepting, and loving woman person I will ever know.  She had such a refreshing way about her, a lightness that lifted burden and worry from the soul.  Every single dream I had was not only important, but also legitimate in her eyes, from the ballerina who wanted to ride lions and join the circus to the high school senior who desperately wanted to forgo college and find herself abroad.  She never once told me to think twice and perhaps risk living only half the time. She raised us to be good, to cherish and love one another, to not fear change, and to remain resolved in whatever paths we chose.

And here comes the shed of tears once again...

The world is never the same without your grandmother.  And it's not even the Christmases and the birthdays that she used to anchor with her presence - no, it goes so far beyond.  It is the pervasive missing goodness from all the otherwise inconsequential days that make me realize, if she is to remain a part of my world, my life, it is now upon me to resemble her in any small way.  This realization is deafening.  I wonder if I know enough.  

And every time I stumble, I inadvertently stop, close my eyes, and lift my shoulders up to the sky, hoping to feel her hand - worn and wrinkled and the size of the universe - touching down on me.  A reminder that I not only carry with me her chestnut hair, but also 25 years worth of her life, and that I can do this.  I can do this for her.

It has been three years since she died and I have been in the mindset of trying not to dwell.  To think of her and then let her go.  To let grief and longing land for a moment, but never build a nest.

Cardinals were her favorite bird.

If you ever drove past my grandparent's house at the corner of Edmonson and Greenlow you would have seen her following - a smattering of trees full of bright red wings and melon beaks.  They would come right up to the back porch and pluck the raisins that we placed on the railing.  There were babies every year and at least one or two proud mamas who would sit at the gate and watch - I'd like to think over our family as well as their own.

And so, now one has come to stay with me.  Knocking at my window every morning and keeping watch over my tiny home at night.  It is enormously overwhelming and perhaps the most staggeringly beautiful sight I have ever seen.

I do so hope she plans to stay.


  1. So amazingly touching. It's amazing the comfort that comes from something so familiar and enjoyed by a loved one that has passed. I believe that the people who leave us, leave behind things to remind us and to give us comfort. I am so glad that you have a beautiful bird outside of your window, because sometimes we all need a sign to get us through the day.

  2. Amazing post---touching and inspirational.

  3. I wanted to let you know that I really enjoy this blog and I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award

  4. Beautifully spoken. You have a kind way with words. I like how you said "if she is to remain a part of my world, my life, it is now upon me to resemble her in any small way". I haven't had a loss in my family yet, which is odd I know, and I think what you said is very wise and comes from thought and experience. I will remember it.


  5. I love the way you write! I nominated you for the Sunshine Award (also!).