8/28/2013 12:12 PM
By Lorelei Hill
The other night my cat Tigger arrived at our back door with a gift for Mike and me. This typical occurrence throughout the summer months usually consists of a dead mouse or (on a really good night) the head of a young sparrow. Last night his offering came as a bit of a surprise. This time, he left us the entire sparrow.
Scooting Tigger inside the house, I noticed the poor bird’s left wing stuck out strangely from the side of his body. He held his eyes tightly shut. His little heart pounded with fear.
Looking to the bright shining moon, now full in the sky, I called on the universe and all nature angels for guidance. In a heartbeat I thought about the “cat condo,” more accurately called a dog training cage, already set up on the deck for our indoor cat, Smudge. It was the perfect place for the bird to recover—if it was going to recover—without having to be put under the stress of becoming a prisoner in a shoebox.
Gathering bird seed and clean rags, I quickly built a makeshift nest. Meanwhile Mike, with kitchen towel in hand, attempted to catch the bird without doing further harm. The closer he drew to the frightened creature, the further it hopped away. If not broken, his wing was surely bent. We knew he’d be a sitting duck—or swallow, as the case may be—for any neighbourhood cats.
“I’m only scaring him worse,” Mike told me after a few unsuccessful attempts. Being of the stubborn nature that I am, I persisted. Laying small piles of birdseed in strategic places in the corner of our deck, I coaxed the bird closer and closer to the far end of the square wire enclosure. He was much too large to squeeze between the bars, and so, I attempted to trap him between the condo and the corner of our well-enclosed deck.
Mike went inside as I placed my last handful of seed as close to the pain-stricken bird as I dared. Once again, I looked to the heavens and prayed a silent prayer. As if by magic, the bird fluttered, and in that instant, jumped between the bars of the cage! I blinked. I believe the bird did too. One minute he was too big to fit, and the next, he was sitting squarely on the inside. Miraculous!
Climbing into bed, I thanked the universe for extending a miracle to this seemingly insignificant, perfect, tiny creature. As I lay awake I thought about the miracles cardiac and transplant patients are extended each moment of each day. Despite our “broken parts,” each day we wake up, we breathe, and carry on. Each day we get to choose whether or not to have gratitude for our existence or curse it. What a miracle. Like that bird, cardiac families stumble, limp, and jump at whatever small chance we are given for just a little bit longer.
The next morning I woke to another miracle. Throwing on my clothes, I raced for the back slider door. Hoping against all odds that my poor, new little buddy was still breathing, I held back the cats, all three of whom were haunting the kitchen, slid open the door and—saw nothing! That’s right, I saw nothing. The bird was gone. Looking around the cage and all over the grass for feathers, or any other unmentionables, I breathed a sigh of relief to realize that my patient had flown the coop. His wing must have healed in the night, and just as I do as soon as I heal, he slipped back through the bars of his hospital room, and having taken flight once more, his life goes on…
Hello from Ontario, Canada! Lorelei Hill is a mother of two CHD babies, wife, writer/teacher, and a survivor of tricuspid atresia. After graduating with honors from Queen’s University in Kingston, Lorelei went on to teach and travel the world. Now settled into small town life, she is working with other CHD patients and her own cardiac specialists to complete a self-help book for young CHD families, entitled From the Heart. Click here to visit her website.
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