There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

The Last Days of the Hummingbirds

This was a travel day, in which my husband and I went and visited family, including my parents. Rain was forecast, but it hadn't arrived just yet; in fact, we would spend several hours on this day driving in mist and downpours, along the Juniata River, to and from home.

We were convinced that the hummingbirds had all left because around noon on Saturday, our yard became silent. The hummingbirds are usually quite active at dusk, and we didn't see any then. Had they already begun their long journey to Mexico and Central America? Oh no!

But then this morning, first thing, we saw two birds at the front feeder. They have been eating a lot, packing on the ounces in preparation for travel. We've been joking that the one bird is getting hefty and will weigh 10 pounds by the time it's ready to go! Yes, the birds can increase their body weight by as much as 40% in preparation for their journey.

We've had our first few chilly nights and crisp blue-sky days, and the nectar sources are dwindling in the yard. The sun's angle is getting low; I've seen the first colored leaves. The jewelweed's orange flowers, so profuse before, have begun to turn to seed pods; the flowers are falling. The food sources are failing; it's nearly time to go, but we hate to see them leave. We love them so.

"This day has a hummingbird in it!" I exclaimed to my husband, with joy. He puts an "H" on the calendar now, to denote each day in which we see one. We're keeping track. We say Hello and many nice things to every hummingbird we see. We ask each other questions, like Will they miss our yard while they're gone? Will they dream of home?

So we spent just a little time with the hummingbirds, and then we packed up and began our own journey, down through the Seven Mountains in pouring rain; too wet to even stop by the river for a look. Mist everywhere, mist that seemed almost possessed of its own volition. The mist of angels rising; spirits having flown.

I have not said much about my parents on these pages since mid-July. The situation is one I don't really want to comment on much, except to say: Much like the hummingbirds, my parents seem to be putting their Traveling Suits on, getting ready to fly to the Next Place.

Oh, it's not a certain thing. It's like the tide that goes out and comes in. Some days are better. Other days are worse. But we see the direction in which all things are trending. I know how this story ends.

So we do all of what we can, which isn't much. We show up. We hug. We say our I Love You's. I sit with my hands on my mother; then my hands on my father. I sang to them the last time I was there. The good, old Methodist hymns. Old Rugged Cross. Will the Circle Be Unbroken.

On this day, my cousin Susie visited too; and my little sister and her family. We sat around; we all talked at once, which felt sort of normal. Susie had a Bible and even though my parents' hearing is not so good now (and Mom didn't have her hearing aids in), I read them some favorite passages. Psalm 23. 1 Corinthians 13. We almost know all those words by heart, but it was a different version than I was used to; a strange Bible.

There were lots of hugs, and when they were "with" us, conversations with my parents. Tiny Tiger was on the scene and so was the Moose; they were on hand to lend emotional support, and they did a fine job. I told my mom I love her; she said I Love You back. 

"Two of your Doll Babies are here to see you!" I said to my dad. At a certain point, he sat up in bed and asked what time it was. I told him: 3 p.m. He said we should order a meal from the local Creme Stop; could Julie and I stay for supper? He was afraid we would leave hungry. 

"Yes, Dad. Of course we can stay," we both said, nodding and smiling. He seemed happy to hear it. Then he was in and out. They are both so thin; so small; dwindling. So much of this is difficult to see, but at least they are together.

As we left, my dad was saying something. I leaned closer. I couldn't tell. Maybe it was "Don't worry." Or "I don't have any worries." Something like that. "Okay, Dad," I said. A few more I Love You's and we were on the road, heading back into the rain and mist. Every time I visit now, when I leave, I wonder: will I get to see them again in this world?

And so it is Monday morning, and I am sitting on our front porch as I tell you this story. There is a hummingbird at the front feeder, and it has been squeaking all around and eating like a champ. A little while ago, it flew right over my head and gave me a wing-dip as it looked right into my eyes. A feather fell. Was that farewell? No! The bird came back. It's NOT gone. Yet. Whew.

There is always a battle that takes place inside of you when something or someone you love is about to go. If there is a leave that must be taken, some eternal clock in Heaven ticking down, by all means, you must go. But it's so hard. We are trying to choose gratitude instead of sorrow. Oh, best beloved, won't you stay . . . oh won't you stay just a little bit longer?

Last year, the last day we saw hummingbirds at our house was September 18. If you still have hummingbirds at YOUR house too, put some love on them for me, for here is the news: they're getting ready to fly. But all I need to know for now is this great truth: today is a good day, for it has hummingbirds in it.

My story has two songs today. Our songs are Olivia Newton-John and John Denver, with Fly Away; and Jackson Browne, with Stay.

I've come back to add this favorite set of Bible verses which I read to my parents: 1 Corinthians 13. For if there is one gift they have given me, it is that their fine example has taught me a LOT about love.

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 
5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 
6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether  there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 
10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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