“Oh my God. Poor bird!” I exclaimed as I saw a bird bounce off the windshield of the car heading toward me. I was driving to work that morning and had the misfortune of witnessing what, to me, was a quite disturbing scene. I vividly remember seeing multiple feathers being blown off the bird at the time of the violent impact.
But amazingly, the bird had rolled off the windshield after the impact, leaving its flurry of feathers floating gracefully to the highway pavement, and continued flying. I was astonished. I saw it heading off toward a grassy field beside the road. The bird was struggling, flying in a very unbalanced way, but with evident tenacity to safely land. I turned my head back to the highway, and continued driving, with the image of the bird etched in my mind.
Will it survive? Will its broken wing or wings heal? Will its lost feathers grow back?
A few months later I received an unexpected phone call. The news was bad. Someone needed my help. I was astonished. I felt close to collapse. I had to make decisions, but couldn’t focus. I closed my office door, sat on my chair and breathed deeply. And I said a prayer, asking God for guidance.
The image of the unfortunate bird came to my mind, even though several months had passed since that incident. Like the bird, I was in pain. Emotional pain. I felt as though my wings were broken, or worse, ripped apart. With no feathers left.
But like the bird, I knew I had to do something right away. I had to continue moving and heading off to where I could find relief. A place with green pastures. Then I switched my course of thoughts with a more determined state of mind. I realized I still had my wings. I regained my strength, and made quick decisions. Successfully.
Several weeks later, I found myself looking back in retrospect, thankful that everything was resolved. And life went back to normal.
A recent event involving a nursing home resident made me think of the unfortunate bird again. Mrs. Williams’s niece came from out of town to visit. A rather unusual visit. Mrs. Williams’s sister had just died, and her niece came to bear the bad news. Mrs. Williams is a lady in her 90’s, with advanced dementia, and in a very declined condition. I was present when Mrs. Williams and the niece met. As a social worker, I like to be present when my residents receive bad news, in case of any crisis.
“Aunt, I am Gloria, your niece, do you remember me?”
Mrs. Williams perked up, and seemed to recognize her niece, despite her poor memory. Hesitating, the niece told her about her sister’s death. Mrs. Williams had remained still for several seconds, then she opened her eyes widely.
The impact against the windshield, I thought, recalling the bird incident, the shock and the realization of instant pain.
Mrs. Williams started crying. A few minutes later, she fell silent. She let her head lean forward, closed her eyes, and then looked as if she went to sleep. Due to her dementia it was not unusual for Mrs. Williams to look sleepy or lethargic.
“Aunt, aunt,” the niece called quietly. Mrs. Williams tilted her head up toward her niece and opened her eyes. They shared a smile.
“Aunt, are you okay?
“I’m fine,” Mrs. Williams answered. She started talking about the plants in the sunroom. The niece and I realized that Mrs. Williams had completely forgotten about the recent sad news. In less than five minutes.
The niece didn’t broach the subject again. She had accomplished her mission of telling her aunt about her sister’s death. A painful moment for Mrs. Williams and her niece. Fortunately, a very brief moment for Mrs. Williams, who now continues her routine. And life went back to normal.
Her wings were healed. Her feathers grew back, I mused.
All within five minutes.