I love this guy. Cardinals have held a special place in my heart since I was just a young girl living in Ohio.
We had moved back to the Midwest from Maine and it really wasn’t a happy time for me.
I longed for the ocean, seaside forests, fog and beach combing. My most beloved moments were climbing the rocks, searching for ocean life and beach glass. I loved Maine more than I could articulate even as a youngster, it was literally woven into my soul’s fabric. Having to leave what felt like my true home was filled with emotions that seemed bigger than life. Of course, as children, everything in our little worlds feels HUGE.
It only took a few years to know that it was just a phase of life, and that phase would then eventually become another phase.
Our house back in Ohio was a great house for a nature lover. We had some farm animals, a small orchard, beautiful fields and lots of woods with a creek. The expansive yard was a true bird haven. There would be times when I’d count 30 or even more pairs of cardinals in the bushes.
The irony was not lost on me that after moving back to Maine a number of years later, it was rare to ever see a cardinal!
During the last few days of my Dad’s life, I checked out of my normal routine (job included) and moved into Dad’s room at the nursing home. It was a time that I was honored beyond description to be present for. It was also a time of deep despair and sadness. Suddenly time was speeding up and as much as I did want my Dad to be done with his suffering, it was breaking my heart to come ever closer to the final good bye.
Early in the morning hours, just barely after dawn, I had moved off the side of Dad’s bed to a chair by the window to stretch my back and try to coax my spine into some semblance of normal posture. Just outside his window at the base of a small tree in the courtyard landed a beautiful scarlet male cardinal who looked directly into the window as if to say, “I’m here. I’m here for you, to bring you comfort and I’m here for your Dad and Mother too.” I felt time briefly stand still until he finally decided to seek some food in the grass. He graced us with his presence or a few hours and then flew away.
I looked for him each morning at dawn and again at dusk, but he did not return. Then not long after my dear Father left his earthly body, the cardinal flashed brilliant red by the window as he landed under the tree. There he stayed for quite some time, quietly comforting us as only an animal can do.
There is comfort everywhere. When you open yourself to nature, to beauty, to our fellow human beings, there is comfort all around us. We just have to look.