This afternoon after I fought back during Round 2 of the Migraine Mess, I took Miss Sophie out back to let her run her little legs off. It was a nice afternoon. I’m hesitant to get too excited, because I know what my Granny said has always come to fruition. Every. Single. Year.
There will be an Easter cold snap. Right before Easter.
And Easter’s late this year, y’all.
So, ummm, call me a cynic, but I don’t trust the weather just yet. I see you playing hide-and-seek over there, Winter. I don’t believe you have packed your bags and headed home just yet.
Anyway, weather forecasting aside, as I was watching the littles and Miss Sophie running around, playing Frisbee and soccer, I heard a distinct sound above. I looked up, and way, way up high, there were geese flying in the beautiful v-formation. Tears came to my eyes. I do love geese, especially since I found out that in the Celtic culture, they represent the holy spirit. I have a friend who texts me “geese sightings” since we talked about that. I love it.
As I watched them fly over, I thought about thoughts I heard shared by a dear man, my Mama’s pastor and friend, Pastor Bill. He shared it at a Memorial for our cousin, Miss B, on a rainy Saturday afternoon in the upstairs chapel of the church. Gathered with our family and a few dear friends, he shared stories and songs to bring comfort and hope to the children and all of us who had been touched by death, not once, but twice in the previous weeks.
A year ago today, Miss B passed away one week after Mama. I was with her the day and night before. Listening to doctors, nurses, taking in opinions and listening to all the options. A visit from old friends of Miss B’s and their kind words helped a lot, but ultimately the decision was mine as to what to do. I talked with my sisters and my brother and my Aunt, and by early the morning of the 17th, I thought I knew what we had to do.
I had dreamed about Miss B just two nights before. She was in a beautiful golden room, wearing a fabulous bright pink dressing gown. She was dancing around, and her speech was perfect, not hard to understand at all, as it sometimes could be. I said, “What has happened?” and she replied, “I’m fine. I’m dancing. I’m happy.”
Wow. I took comfort in that dream as I wrestled with the decision before me. It was time to let her dance.
I called Miss Sue, our precious and dear friend who was Daddy’s nurse and has been a friend to all of us. She and Pastor Bill had been there when Mama left this world, and I trust her as much as I love her. Which is a lot. I called her and asked her what she thought. There were medical issues I wasn’t quite clear about. She asked me if I was by myself. I was. “I’m on my way,” she said.
Around this same time, Mama’s neighbor and sweet friend and someone I’m glad is on our team came in. Miss Helen. She had been a friend to Miss B too. She walked in and hugged me.
So it was that the three of us gathered and said our goodbyes. Miss Sue was so beautiful, talking to Miss B. She was a comfort to me and for Miss B, talking her through the journey, as she took her last breaths. I don’t know how I could have handled this without these two strong and gentle women there to help me say goodbye and let Miss B have peace. Finally.
On that Saturday afternoon when we honored and remembered the life of Miss B, Pastor Bill asked the children in the room, my littles and Shaker, my nephew, if they’d seen the birds flying overhead. So many it was hard to see where they began and where they ended.
They nodded. We all did.
Pastor Bill called them a “river of birds.” He talked about hope and finding beauty in life. I don’t remember everything exactly as he said it, but I do remember the peace he left with all of us. And what a gift he gave us in talking about the river of birds. Now when we see them, we all point them out and stand in awe for a moment. Standing in awe is good for the soul I think.
So it was today. I watched the geese as they traded the lead. Once. Twice. Three times. Rhythmically and without slowing the progress. The tears flowed when I thought about how the people in my life do this for me. They come up beside me when I feel like maybe I cannot go on, and they take the lead, letting me rest and catch my breath, protecting me from taking everything head-on all by myself.
We do not journey alone.
And for that I am thankful.
Tonight I especially give thanks for those who have listened to the Spirit and been there to sit with me and all of us in the darkness. And to celebrate in the light. Pastor Bill and Miss Sue, who made time for us time and time again. They love well. Miss Helen, and her spunk and laughter giving us what we needed to keep going. My Aunt, whether it’s bail money or a shoulder, someone to listen or advice about cupcake papers–she always picks up the phone. She’s never too busy. And all of you with your hugs and messages and calls to say you are thinking of us.
Thank you all for taking the lead for a few moments. So we can catch our breath.
The river of birds. Flowing. Together. Onward.
It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?