On Sunday night, my oldest came into the house in a panic. “There’s a bird outside,” he said. “I think it’s really hurt.”
It was, the worst kind of hurt. It was dead. It had gotten its foot stuck in one of our cheap plastic outside chairs and couldn’t get out and, I suppose, starved to death.
When my son found out the bird was dead, he was inconsolable. The tears were real and he had so many regrets. “Why didn’t I go outside and hear the bird chirping before it died? Why couldn’t the bird get its foot out when it was able to get it in?”
He wanted to go back in time. Because he knew that he could have saved the bird, if he’d just known. There was a time when all could be made right, but now the little bird fell into the category of gone, lost, past help or repair.
The two of us hugged and cried for a while, while my husband took care of the little body and put the chair into the trash so it could never hurt another bird. And I knew that my son was crying for the bird, and I was crying for that and for other things. For his pain and for the fact that I couldn’t fix this for him. For the year that we have had, which, while fantastic professionally, has been a hard one personally for reasons quite outside of all of our control. As a parent it is the hardest thing of all to see your child suffer and know that you are powerless to take it away. You can ease and help and be present. But I can’t bring birds back to life. I can’t take away some of the things that have happened and will continue to happen in my boys’ lives.
This morning, as I took a deep breath and opened up the document that is my work in progress, I thought that this was one of the reasons that I like writing. Because in writing, sometimes you can fix things. A scene is a mess? Rewrite it.
A story is hard, painful, difficult to tell? Leave it and write something else.
Because some of the best writing is about the things that cannot be fixed. Perhaps that is the real catharsis, the true reason I love writing.
My son believes the bird went to heaven.
I believe, sometimes in spite of myself, in grace and better things to come and a time when we will all be whole.