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Love never dies.


lcampanella

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Almost immediately after my mother’s death at age 74 in September 2009, I found myself surrounding myself with birds for reasons very personal and also spiritual. I acquired a coffee mug with a bird painted on it, a glass sun catcher for my window with a hummingbird in the center, bird feeders for my yard, bird ornaments for the Christmas tree, a silver pendant with a silhouetted bird, carved mahogany birds for my bookshelf… Suddenly I was spotting birds everywhere, and I needed to have them. To this day I find comfort, and connection with my mother, in these birds.

In March 2010, six months after my mother’s death, I was alone at our cabin in the Berkshires and, perhaps for the first time, allowing myself to fully acknowledge and indulge my immense sadness over being a motherless daughter. As I sat out on the deck staring at the lake, alone with my grief in a location where I especially missed my mother, suddenly a hummingbird flew in front of me and hovered no more than three feet away; I could have reached out and touched it. Instead I reached for my iPhone so that I could photograph it and provide family members proof of this miraculously wonderful visitor. Why did that hummingbird appear in that spot at that moment? It is not difficult for anyone to imagine what I concluded as I sat there, tears flowing and heart racing. Before I could snap a photo or say anything to it, the hummingbird flew off. I was momentarily distressed, but then I quickly became strangely and wonderfully comforted by the realization that my mother was near, that she would always be with me, that she heard what I was thinking, and that she knew I absolutely had not forgotten her.

In addition to surrounding myself with birds as a way to feel connected with my mother during the height of my grieving in the fall of 2009, I also found myself writing a book; it was a cathartic release for my emotions and simultaneously a way of sustaining a connection with the person I missed so intensely. (I didn't know then, but I do now, that grief counselors typically advise those who've lost someone to keep a journal as a way of providing an outlet for grief.) Though I never intended or expected it, the resulting book -- a memoir about my last year with my terminally ill and eternally wonderful mother and my first few months as a motherless daughter -- was published recently. Based on what I’ve read on this web site and based also on reactions from people who’ve read the book, I believe members of this forum for people grieving the loss of a parent may find comfort in WHEN ALL THAT’S LEFT OF ME IS LOVE (www.lindacampanella.tateauthor.com). Though the story is born of death, it is much more about living and loving than about dying and grieving. It is about undying love and enduring connections. Ultimately the book is uplifting and filled with life-affirming joy and gratitude, just as I was… and am. I would welcome reactions from any of you who do choose to read it.

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Thanks for your wonderful insight and sharing your connection to birds. That's a new one. lol I have a cousin who has always had and loved all kinds of birds. I am going to get a cat soon. Yes being a motherless daughter is hard.

Thanks for sharing this fun interesting story.

Debbie

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Debbie: Thanks for your message. There are quite a few amazing, inspiring footnotes to my story of the birds and how I remain connected to my mother through them. I'll share one of them with you and other readers of the forum who want to believe, as I do, that love never dies. Below is a text message exchange I had with my son, Steve, who was in college at the time -- 7 months after he lost is grandmother, Nan. Clearly I'm not the only one who feels my mother's loving presence and her guiding spirit!

STEVE: I meant to tell you that I was having a terrible day the other day – pretty awful. I was walking to Slavin Hall from my car and I was just really upset, and I spotted a cardinal that swooped in from behind me. It stopped about 10 feet in front of me. And for about a good 5 minutes it walked/took very short flights right in front of me on my way to Slavin. I knew it was Nan helping me through the day.

LC: No way! I totally believe this. Thanks for sharing.

STEVE: Ya, it made me smile the whole way there. It was nice.

LC: Nan adored you. She never wanted you to be sad. How nice to know she’ll be a guardian angel, always looking out for you.

STEVE: I just got chills.

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