Friday, April 25, 2008

Fly Away Home

I haven't written at all since I found out my client died because I knew whatever I wrote would be tinged with bitterness, or, worse, blahness.

I've gone through shock and sadness and then landed firmly in anger. I'm sure the death of any 35-year-old would be unfair, but without going into details, trust me when I say this is one of the more unfair ones. I felt angry at life, at God, and at him, even. You went off and died? Who does that?

This morning I loaded Ben into the stroller and we headed out to the shoreline path for a walk/jog. About a mile and a half out, we came to a long wooden bridge. Perched on the railing was the biggest bird I've seen up close. It flew away as we approached, spreading its red tail feathers wide. Wow, I thought, could that be a red-tailed hawk?

As we crossed the long, narrow bridge, the hawk returned and perched on the railing at the end. We slowed down and approached very slowly. It let us get about 10 feet from it, and we stopped and just watched it. I whispered to Ben that we didn't want to scare it away. A nice older gentleman behind us stopped, leaned on the railing and watched his iPod until we were done.

I stared at the hawk and it stared at me. "What are you telling me?" I asked it.

We eventually passed it, and it swooped up and around the bridge. I went a bit farther, then turned around to go back the way we came.

About half a mile ahead, we saw the hawk perched on the fence. "Is that the same bird?" I asked Ben. "I think it's the same bird," he said. Again, we approached slowly, whispering, "We won't hurt you," and this time it let us pass without flying away.

Another half a mile down, and, I'm not kidding, the same hawk was perched on one of the big gates leading to a closed-off path. Again, we slowed down, and he just watched us go by. As I thought that maybe it understood we meant it no harm, my eyes teared up in gratitude.

About 50 feet ahead, a naturalist was leading a field trip of school kids. I stopped and asked her what that bird was, pointing back to where the bird was still perched, watching us.

"I'm not sure without my binoculars, but I think that's a red-tailed hawk." That's what I'd thought, too, but I know nothing about birds, so I would have believed her if she'd told me it was some weird red-tailed duck.

I came home and looked up the symbology of red-tailed hawks. Of course, they mean many different things to many different people, but one of the common threads was that they accompany the visionary and are a spiritual messenger. They are a symbol of guardianship, and also of seeing the bigger picture.

One site said, "Be ever alert for a red tail flying near, for the Red Tailed Hawk will soar beside the Two-Legged whose own gift of vision is exceptionally acute."

I've never gotten that close to a hawk before, and I had the distinct feeling that it was watching over us. At my client's memorial service later in the afternoon, several people described him as a "quiet guardian."

All I know is that I felt a lot less angry afterwards.


Carrie said...

I just got goosebumps. I'm glad you've been able to find some peace.

My Brand Of Crazy... said...

You didn't even have to explain and I would have been sold!
I have had my own little, similar experiences with animals after deaths in my family. I'm glad you've been able to come to peaceful terms with it all and the hawk was able to help you:)

Anonymous said...

I love special moments like these that help us work through tough times. I always consider such encounters a special gift. So, consider yourself gifted! lol


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