Mama Birds

Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words –

And never stops – at all –   

~ Emily Dickinson

Five little closed-eyed downy gray chicks peep out of the nest a mama bird made in my wreath on the front door. For the past week, I watched as she intricately weaved one strand at a time this lovely home. I see the repetition, the care, the deliberateness in her intentions and I am touched deeply.  Something stirs within me and I can’t quite make sense of it yet. 

I look out my office window at the front door to check on the babies. Suddenly, there is a huge black and white magpie who swoops in, eats the baby birds one by one. The mom is no where to be found. I fear she is watching in horror from a nearby tree, berating herself for not finding a safer nesting spot. 

The magpie keeps raiding the nest, dropping one on the patio, leaving a smear of blood. I watch in panic, alarmed in disbelief. In my stunned state, I hesitate. The savage comes in for the last baby, and I finally run out the front door clapping my hands to shew him off. Too late. All the babies are gone. 

The mother appears shortly after. She keeps flying over to the nest, never landing fully, flapping her wings, and flying away. She does this repeatedly, worried perhaps the perpetrator will come back for her.  It was hard to watch her in this unsettled state. My heart ached. She had suffered a violent loss. How would she recover? The precious time spent delicately preparing and nurturing her babies – all hope gone in an instant. 

I tell this story to my therapist two days later. I can’t get the words out before I start weeping. I can’t figure out why this event is so tragic to me. And there it is –  this experience is just what I needed to crack me open to the grief of my divorce.  Sometimes it takes a seemingly unconnected event to unblock us to our detachment.

I couldn’t access any emotions beyond anger in the past year. Anger is mighty in the sense it can provide us with awareness regarding our boundaries. Clean anger protects us. Aggression denies us growth. It is directed outwards. It doesn’t help us to move forward with an aligned action. The only way to get through our emotions is to feel them when they arise. Not to rush. Not to push. Not to get trapped going down a rabbit hole of he did this to me, but, instead, asking how did I participate in this outcome. This is where our power lies – in the recognition of our part and taking the lesson forward, knitting it into our internal self, building our next nest.

I thought I made a solid choice. The carving of days, the breastfeeding, the cleaning up food from the floor, the settling of myself as my babies spill out their emotions – the many, many moments of caring daily woven into what I have known as motherhood – dismissed and disparaged. My family—dismantled. The partner with whom I created this nest—gone, already nesting with a new bird. Harm, regardless of intention, has happened here. My loss is real. I have to let myself feel it.

Yet, the mama bird surprises me with her resiliency. She immediately starts another nest. She moved forward, again chirping as she builds.  I glance outside while writing this, happy she is taking action on creating a new life, yet my heart, still in its mourning state, tries to hold the grief, the suffering, the hurt, alongside faith –  hopeful that the meaning of all this will certainly help me build a more durable nest – one inside myself that will shelter my little heart better than ever before and a new one for my children that shows them an expanded definition of family and love.

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