Her name is Red and she was a baby robin who fell out of our tree a couple of weeks ago. We fed her around the clock, so that she might be on her way toward her next adventure. It was really our son Zach’s idea, my husband Ron tried to talk him into putting her back into her nest, but Zach would have none of it. Zach had a point, the nest was high in the tree. When I got home, Ron was lowering the ladder and said it was gonna be hard to reach. But come on, a baby bird? I knew from the day old bunnies that we tried to rescue a few years ago. Wild animals are wild to keep alive, you have to feed the babies every 2 – 3 hours and they potty everywhere. I was like, great. We are already taking care of 4 frogs, 3 hermit crabs (thanks Mrs. Wetherholt, “sure, we’ll take them for the summer”), a hamster and a dog. Most days I’m just glad I know where my keys are. A bird? And who is gonna take care of this bird? “I will,” said Zach.
Max is ok with it, as long as he was not eating while the bird is being fed worms. We had some worms in the fridge for an upcoming fishing trip this week. Then we have been raiding the compost pile near our tree line for more worms and finally I got on the internet and found a nice mixture of dog food, applesauce, boiled eggs and peanut butter that we have been to squirting into her mouth a syringe that was used to give baby’s medicine. I got up a couple of times a night and as I am writing these thoughts I am about to fall asleep. But it is working. She is growing. Her wing just today began to fill out and she began to exercise her wings. She is so close. She just needs a little help to get there.
A few days later I went to a memorial service for a young musician / songwriter / artist, who took his own life this month. He played on my first CD in town. I saw him at Gamestop with his kids this past year. Max and Zach had a boy fest while Will and I talked about our favorite local artists and about friends we had in common. I mentioned a friend and he laughed and said, “don’t tell people you know him, really.” (You know who you are!) We finally spoke of writing. We never got to do that together. On May 5 William Owsley ended his life. At a memorial service I got a chance to meet his father and to tell him how much I loved his son’s playing and that we had bumped into each other and connected this past year. I talked about how I had seen that spark in his eyes and that I was sorry I wasn’t a better friend and that I couldn’t have been there that night to remind him of his spark. His father grabbed my hand and said, “you are so sweet. I was there that night and I missed it by 5 minutes. He forgot that spark.” I hugged his neck and thought of the loss his father must feel. Like that bird, Will needed help to get there. I guess we all do at times.
This morning my boys and I went to the house of someone in our town whose home received flood damage. I had been to there house the week of the flood. I had cut carpet, pulled nails, knocked down drywall and today I was painting their cinder block basement walls. I was there the last two days. I was one of only four others who came. The work wasn’t large and went fast, but I thought back to the week of the flood. I was with a classmates mom, when I got the word that this family needed more work. I called my friend and she said, “go help your friend.” We were texting and I texted back, “well she’s not really a friend, more of a new acquaintance. I just met them and they needed some help.” Then I arrived at the home. The mom greeted me in the front yard and introduced me to one of her neighbors. She said, “now, this friend Celia showed up and worked like a dog all day. She came because Porter’s Call (an organization I love) sent an email that simply said, ‘we need hands to help them.'” My boys were still in school, so I poured myself into that basement. I loved that I was the only girl working. I love power tools.
As I thought about it, I was a bit ashamed that I had said we weren’t friends and I revisited the conversation. The next day, I said you know I would have done it for anyone. The one who is near is your neighbor and the Bible says to love your neighbor as yourself. Today after we finished painting, the mom said, “just come up and hang out.” Our boys fell deep into a marathon of Mythbusters, while the she and her husband and I hung out in the kitchen, talking about their week. Her dad was arriving the next day with a buddy of his to work on the basement. I said, “would it help if your two boys were to come to my house to play? My crew would love it and your boys would not be in your way; besides we have a pool.” “Sold,” she said.
See, the thing about life that I keep learning is that it is ever new, it is everlasting, ever being born, ever dying. It is about taking a chance to just show up. It is a chance to say with your hands and feet that, someone cares and they will show up. I always think, what if none one shows up? What can I do to help them see the spark in their lives? I don’t want to miss it by 5 minutes. Don’t give up 5 minutes before your miracle is about to happen.
Back to my bird…. I had a thought today that my bird might get strong enough to fly and while I’m gone, meet with some bad circumstances and it would be over for the bird. There is no guaranty that all this and she might not make it. All I know is what I need to do. All I know is what is right for me and that giving feels right–helping that mom, feeding that bird, hugging that dad, taking a moment to go to our young friend Tanner’s house [BIG shout out to Tanner, it’s her 7th birthday today 7/8/10, visit http://www.tanner.celiamusic.net and leave her a birthday note] and play on her slip n slide that day before she goes back to the hospital (and it was gonna be a big one day tomorrow and gonna hurt). As she made my pb and j sandwich, I told her about Gone With the Wind and The last scene. how Scarlett says, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Tomorrow is another day. No matter how dark life seems, tomorrow is another day. Who knows, someone might show up eager to help. So I must believe. I must follow my heart. I must trust that when I am about to fly, someone will have helped me get stronger. Before I am about to spread my wings, I could worry my day away or put my faith in someone else, or something else. I could let go and know that the love that comes through me to help another, is not my own, is not so that I might boast, but so that I too may live. Because it is only in losing myself that I really find myself.
Here’s to flying. In life, may you all know little birds, the spark in your life, that you are loved, that you matter, that you have get possibilities, and that your wings are about to open and take off, any day day now.
Ok, I’ve almost fallen asleep twice. I’m off to bed, because I’ve gotta get up at 3 AM to worms and mush. What I have found is that helping others can be messy, hard, rewarding and there is no guaranty that it will work out the way I planned. I ‘m counting on turning out better.
Final update on the Red, the robin: After getting much stronger and filling out her feathers, we let her spend some time outdoors in and around a dogwood tree outside our window. Eventually a mother Robin who had a nest in the same tree, saw Red and her motherly skills kicked in. The mother brought her a single worm and fed her as we watched through the window. She continued feeding Red between feeding her own baby robins. Red spent nights indoors, but spent a couple of days outside with her new adoptive momma robin. After two or three days, we went out to bring her in for the night and she was gone. That was the goal, to return her to her life. Before we put her outside, we painted her claw-nails red so we’d recognize her and when we see a robin outside our window, we all look very closely at her claws.
(note: I wrote these thoughts over a period of about a month. They are in sequence, but the timing is loose.)