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Ravens

I’ve been struggling for weeks now on what I could possibly say to express what I’ve been feeling in the wake of Jesse’s passing. This morning, she gave me an answer in the form of a dream. I came into a room with a large segmented window looking out from a height onto a scene of the sky, in which birds were flying. I couldn’t identify them at first, but they became obvious soon enough. Jesse was there and she was watching the birds with joy.
“Aren’t they beautiful?” She asks as she turns to face me for a moment and look me in the eyes. I want to reply “Yes”, but I also want to say “What are you doing here? I thought you were gone? I miss you, are you here to stay?”, but I don’t. I hold my tongue, and as I look over, I see Serena and Eric standing there too, looking over at me and letting me know I shouldn’t speak, confirming my feelings. Don’t break the spell. Allow the moment to just be what it is. And so, I turn back and smile, and look to Jesse and look to the birds. They are ravens. I know that soon Jesse is going to return to them, but for now here she is and here we are and there is joy tinged with sorrow.
There’s more to the dream, and it dissolves quickly into other topics, but that’s the part that stands out in sharp relief against the background.
We have a murder of crows (or ravens) that live in the trees that surround the school over our back fence, and they often choose our house to roost at, making their obnoxious calls in the early morning, waking the house up (usually Isaac is the first to rouse), and forcing the family into action far sooner than we would normally choose to wake. Today I realized that the crows haven’t been around for several weeks. I’ve realized this today, because this morning they were back. They were flitting about on the roof, and I heard them cawing in the distance, but they respectfully let us sleep this morning. When I finally got up, I saw one in the back yard hopping the lawn like they so often do, looking for worms. I took a moment to really enjoy their presence in my life, and not just as an unwelcome alarm clock. Big, beautiful, strong birds they are, with a confident call that is not a melodious song, but instead is a clarion speaking their will to live and to be free. Now, they are a reminder of one who has come and has left us, to be free in her own way. I’m so glad she came to visit this morning, to give me that smile one last time.
I’ve been walking around in my mind these last weeks in a silent meditation, much like walking the labyrinth outside the hospital waiting room several years ago, as I could find nothing practical that I could do to help her heal her body. Now, I find nothing practical I can do to heal her soul – I walk the labyrinth of my own experience. One path in, one path out — that is comfort, and allows me to keep pace with myself. I feel like this morning, I reached the center, and I can see the vistas of all that is around me. I can see the birds fly, and I know she’s happy. We love you honey, and we miss you, but I’m ready to let you go now.
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
Yes they are, and so are you. So are you.

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