“My Birds”

“My Birds”

Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.

     Joseph Campbell


It’s complicated, she exclaimed many times as we talked. 

It’s complicated, crazy and sometimes I just can’t believe it’s happening to me.  

She had laid it out: 

The surgery following an accident.  The long hospital recovery.  The rehab that went on longer.  The mental fog caused by the pills and pain relievers.  The four feet of snow that dumped on her home right after she returned there.  The sadness and hurt that came when no one called to see how she and her husband, for whom she is a caregiver, were doing.  The hurricane that destroyed much of her roof and flooded her basement later that year.   The insurance red tape and bureaucracy that have kept their roof from being fixed two years later.  The fault line that her home is on and the small earthquake that followed, shaking both her belongings and her spirit.  The severe pain that is ongoing.  The alienation from her family members who callously ignore her struggles and offer neither support nor help.  Her husband’s depression and seclusion.  She indicates that’s not all of it.

Yes.  It is complicated.  Deeply so.

And her loneliness is deeply felt.  Her husband won’t talk.  Her family doesn’t want to hear it.  Her friends have quickly faded away. 

She simply needs to talk, to share it, to try give voice to the frustrations, fears and failures of the system and those around her.  She’s trying, desperately, to sort it out and to find a way to keep going in spite of it.  It’s so complicated, it immobilizes her.  Her life has lost its hope.  Her spirit has lost its faith.

We asked her:

What in your life is able to bring you joy?  Is there anything right now that inspires you?  Anything that gives meaning to your life?

Her response surprised us:

My birds.

Your birds?

I take in rescue birds.  At one time I had 27 of them at my home.  Macaws to parakeets.  I just love them.  Caring for them.  Feeding them.  Nursing them back to strength and health.  They are my joy.

There it was – her joy.  Those birds are what filled her with life with meaning, with purpose.  And the sad – and tragic – thing was, when she got sick there were those who wanted to take her birds away.  They may have been well-meaning, trying to take what they thought might be a burden for her, away.  But they weren’t considering what she really needed.  They never realized what was life-giving to her.   


What – ultimately – could be her saving grace.



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