Bang! Bang! Something hit a window. Hard. Like some jokester, a visitor trying to get my attention. But I live in the middle of nowhere, alone with my dog Annie. At twilight on a Sunday night, I was not expecting company.
Heart pounding, I left my computer and searched for the source of the sound, expecting/fearing to see a human or a large animal like a bear. In the living room, I saw Annie looking down into the flower bed. In the dim light, I still couldn’t see anything, so I went out.
Between the white daisies and the purple hebes, I saw a dusty-brown sparrow sitting cockeyed, tail up. She had hit the window and now sat stunned, possibly dying, her white-rimmed eye squinted in pain. Knowing I could not heal her, I could only pray. Lord, please let this sparrow live.
I went back to my computer, where I was on my fourth page of writing about how lonely I am, how every little thing is fraught with memories, how my husband and most of my birth family have died or live so far away I never see them, how I’m jealous of people with husbands and grandchildren. All this was sparked by seeing Annie’s mom and sister on our walk–her family. But now, thinking about the sparrow, I decided to quit my whining and play the piano for a while.
An hour later, I went back out with my flashlight. The sparrow had righted herself and her eye looked clearer, but she seemed to be pumping up and down, perhaps in pain? Oh God, please help her, I prayed. This time I was drawn to touch her. I put one finger on her soft feathers. So soft. “God bless you,” I said, and went back in.
At bedtime, I took one more look. She was still there. She looked the same, still alive, still pumping up and down. But this time I noticed something else. There were two birds. The other, a male, lay dead on the sidewalk, its feathers splayed out like a fan. Was she grieving? Would she stay here indefinitely or fly off when she felt strong enough? Please God, I prayed. Let her live. Let her be gone in the morning.
I thought about the two birds during the night, the dead male and the female rocking in pain or grief. (Is there any difference?) I don’t know why they hit the window. Perhaps they saw their reflection. Perhaps they were attracted by the light. Perhaps they were just flying along and bang! Everything changed forever.
This morning, the widowed sparrow was gone. In the light, I could see two patches of gray and white feathers stuck to the window glass where they hit. After breakfast, I will take the male’s weightless body to a resting place under the trees. The widowed sparrow, like me, will go on.