Sitting on the patio, feet propped up on an anti-gravity chair, I was doing nothing more than looking at the mountains. I wondered as I often did if there was something more to life than this. At least I was until the tiny flyer appeared.
It was a very little bird like a hummingbird. You know those little ones with long thin beaks that search out tubular flowers, the type they can penetrate and enter to consume sweet nectar. They hover and vibrate as they commune with the host.
It was nearing dusk and I was tired. The glass of wine in my hand was half consumed. I blinked, yawned and stretched my neck. I expected the teeny visitor to be gone. But there he was, not more than 20 feet away, hanging in space, waiting. I watched for a while, mesmerized as he resumed his communion, unable to draw my eyes away.
The tiny beauty performed a dance for me. He entered a bud and then retreated, floating in the air, ever so lightly...
We took a breath together, before he entered the soft folds of another flower, slowly, as if visiting a lover. He made a full circle of the target and paused…as if to alert me... before digging in and loosing himself.
A memory from long ago surfaced, though I tried to fight it. It was a song that I remembered, a sweet, sad tune. In my mind, I heard a high, clear young voice singing, “I’ll be there…if ever you need me... I’ll be there…”
I nodded off, hearing the music as the words echoed repeatedly, the words to a song, the very first record - one of the first gifts my little brother bought me one Christmas.
When I awoke, the sun had escaped the horizon entirely and blue inky clouds layered themselves over a graying canvas. A wave of sadness overcame me as if death had fallen out of the Heavens and announced itself.
I’d been alone for a while and still wasn’t used to the silence. It was as if everyone had gone and I was the last person on the Earth….but, of course, that wasn’t true. Every day, or at least those days I ventured out, I saw other souls out there…in life.
Before I could question why this cape of darkness fell across over my face, obscuring my vision - causing me to tear up and suffer a swollen throat, my brother’s face visited my heart. With it came an intense yearning to see and hold him. He was so young when he died. So much younger than I. A baby at 28…barely a man, more than a boy and the one person in the world I would have gladly went before…if only to save him.
Loud flapping interrupted painful thoughts and I struggled to throw off the heaviness. I looked around the yard and up the slope beyond the wall. On the far corner of the house, I saw a huge horned owl. He sat on the corner of the tile roof, green eyes glowing; staring at me as if I were a rabbit he planned to partake of for a meal.
Silently I said a prayer, as I felt a chill. I had one wish. All I want is to see Patrick. To know he is okay, wherever he is, to tell him I love him, to tell him I’m sorry. To say I wish I’d been there and knew what to do, but that I always loved him. That I wished I’d gone with my heart and not tried so hard to do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing isn’t what you need to do.
It started to rain. Rivers of tears ran down my cheeks. Patrick had the most beautiful eyes. Through a veil of sadness, I knew I had to see the owl. There he was, sitting in his glory, proud and unafraid. I watched, because I couldn’t draw my eyes away. Silently, he spread great wings and lifted off.
I knew my prayer wouldn’t be answered. Not now.
And if I died, I knew, if there isn’t somewhere beyond here, I’d never see him again. I could not bear that thought. So, I continue to imagine, mourn him and cry for him in my dreams. When I’m sad, sleepy, had too many glasses of wine or I’m just lonely and thinking of regrets, I can’t understand why he’s gone.
Why was he taken? Didn’t he suffer enough? Didn’t I? Why take the only person I truly loved and adored, the one person in this world that I so wanted to care for, my baby, the sweetness I remembered? How fair is life. I know only the good die young, that’s what they say, but surely, God can’t be so cold hearted as to make this part of his plan.
Years and years ago, I swear I saw Patrick in the clouds, felt him sometimes. I thought I saw his face in a stranger’s look….gasped when I saw a familiar walk. No more. That’s the moment I knew he was gone.
I still need to wrap him in my arms, take away his hurts and save him. Because I didn’t do that, I didn’t, and now I can’t save myself. I didn’t know how to reach him…and I sought the typical guidance.
Please let me be his blanket, let me soothe him and drape my love around him, wherever he is now. Each time I think of him, please God, if you are there and if you haven’t forsaken me, please let him feel a wave of warmth and serenity so true and real that he is bathed in love. Because he deserves that and more.
I will pay my dues in time and gladly sacrifice what I must - just to give him comfort …just to let him know he was and is cherished beyond all things and always will be. In my heart, he lives forever.
If there is any justice in the world, if all I learned in school and prayer is real, I will see him, hold him and tell him one day, how much he means to me – how much I love him. How I wish it were today.