Death smacked into my back door tonight. I sat at the table paying bills and feeling apathetic about life. (Bills somehow do that to me.) When suddenly I heard a thwump behind me and my heart froze. I was home alone. But when I looked out of the back sliding glass door, my heart immediately thawed and then it sank. A little sparrow had crashed into the window and lay on the ground, dazed.
At first, I thought it would be ok. I could see a little movement. I cheered the sparrow on in my mind. Come on little bird, shake it off. But time slowed down, wrapped our two souls in a blanket, and I watched it die.
I remember when my Grandma was dying. She’d been failing for a while and we knew the end was near. So I drove to Idaho with my Mom to be with her in the final hours. Moments in life can be so singular. Our family gathered around our Matriarch and we talked to her. We laughed over cherished memories and cried with each other. My grandma had experienced a stroke, so she couldn’t talk back to us. But your eyes can say everything when your mouth doesn’t.
When the time came and she was actually dying, I left the room. I went down to the lobby to wait for other family members. The thought of actually seeing Grandma leave hurt. So I didn’t watch. But the pain came anyway. Later, seeing the body was fine. I had seen other dead people. I knew that wasn’t her anymore. But those milliseconds that hover between life and death, it’s like they create a singularity. The distance between worlds is so thin but it stretches so far.
And tonight I was caught up in another event horizon of time. I sat in my kitchen but I was really back at a hospital in Rexburg, Idaho. The choice loomed before me again. Do I look or do I turn away? . . . This time I stayed.
When the small sparrow slumped over, my heart felt the journey that my vision denied me. The soul is a mysterious thing, but it is very real. I ached at the loss of such a joyous little creature, but I witnessed a transition of that joy as it soared up to the other side. It’s given me a lot to think about on a humdrum Thursday evening, and this thought stands out most of all:
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. ~ Matthew 10:29-31