On Christmas morning, when I went outside to check on the chickens, there was a bluejay standing on the patio, about ten feet away from me. I was surprised by the sweet bird, and felt that wonder of whether it had something to do with Nathaniel. Standing in the backyard in my bathrobe I started to cry, only in part because I was sad, but more because I was hopeful for that glimmer of connection with my son.
I believe that it's possible that birds relay messages between worlds.
So I watched the bird. He was an unusual kind of bluejay -- his head was fuller, the feathers standing away, ruffled. His body was fuller, too, like he was a bigger jay, but younger somehow. His breast was grey. He only hopped around the yard; I never saw him take flight. I wondered if he's a different breed of bird altogether.
There was a second bluejay in the yard Christmas morning, so I was able to compare their bodies more closely. The second blue jay was much more familiar, like the common jays I see regularly. He had a much sleeker body - its feathers lay flatter against his head and breast, and he hopped around but also took flight easily, moving between the air and earth effortlessly. But both of the birds were blue all over except for the breast, which was grey. They just had very different shapes and behaviors.
I watched the first bird that I saw for as long as I could. I even took a picture of him, but the picture didn't properly capture his presence or his uniqueness. It was like he was a different kind of bluejay, the way Nathaniel was a different kind of human. Nathaniel's DNA was fundamentally different from the DNA of people who thrive on this planet. He had extra genetic material, which made basic survival -- breath, food, water -- an insurmountable challenge.
For a short while, it seemed like the bird wanted my attention, and he got it. But after about 10 minutes, he didn't want my attention anymore, and he hopped around to the side of the house and tried to hide from me. So I left him alone.
A few days later David found the sweet bird dead in the front yard, underneath the windows of his office. I don't know how long he had been there. It looked like the same bird with the fluffy feathers around the head and body. Seeing him dead made the hole in my soul whistle and moan for Nathaniel. And I don't know what to make of it. It definitely seems like some kind of sign or symbol, but I don't know what.
A reminder that all things die? That the material world and all things living are just here temporarily? Thanks, but that's a life truth that is very clear right now. That Nathaniel is not far away? Maybe that wishful thinking. I don't know how to interpret this experience, or if it's one of those things that exists only in the realm of symbol, and is not for me to solve or make sense of.
But I would really like to understand.