Little Bird

Flowers along the boardwalk

Flowers along the boardwalk

I went to a baby shower yesterday.  The mother-to-be asked that we each bring our favorite book for her baby.  Mine is called Little Bird written by Germano Zullo.  It’s a story of a little bird who needs to be taught to fly. The funny part is you only know that by the illustrations. Without them, the story is a poem and I love the message.  I decided to write it out here for you.  The illustrations of the little bird and the man who helped it are also wonderful so you should buy the book if you like what you read.

Little Bird

Some days are different.
One could almost believe that one day is just like another.
But some have something a little more.
Nothing much.
Just a small thing.

Most of the time we don’t notice these things.
Because little things are not made to be noticed.
They are there to be discovered.
When we take the time to look for them…
The small things appear.

Here or there.
But suddenly so present…
They seem enormous.

The small things are treasures.
True treasures.
There are no greater treasures than the little things.
One is enough to enrich the moment.
Just one is enough to change the world.

My friend Vita called yesterday morning with sad news.  Her mother who has been gravely ill for weeks, passed just an hour earlier. It didn’t come as a surprise but still pained my heart in the delivery.  I’ve spoken to Vita every day for weeks to inquire and just lend an ear.  Her mother had metastasized breast cancer for 20 years.  That in itself is an admirable feat as the last few years were not without pain.  She is the one that pulled me out of one of my darker hours whispering into the phone, “I’m still here.  I’m still here.  Get the operation it’s a piece of cake.”  She was right and pulled me out of despair and got me working on appointments with doctors. I wrote about that moment in this post.  In the end, her iron will would not let her pass easily and so there was a lot of discussion as to what to do.  She died at home.  That has a far more cozy sound to it than the actual reality.  A home death is not easy on the living or the one leaving.

I took off for the baby shower tucking Vita’s news into the back of my head.  I might add at this point that the back of my head is a crowded and cluttered place.  That’s were I had shelved my fears that my mammogram would show cancer this time around.  Somewhere in August I started feeling lumps but couldn’t tell if it was scar tissue or cancerous lumps.  Fear is a horrible companion and for the past couple of weeks it would creep out in the night and haunt me.  By day I could lock it up but oh the nights….

It should come as no surprise that a few hours of tasting baby food and a round of pin the sperm on the fallopian tube gave me a headache.  I love celebrating a new life coming into this world but could not shift from death to birth so easily.  Admittedly, the party had a tacky element that happens when enthusiasm gets out of hand.

My jangled nerves and I went for the mammogram today.  I met with my surgeon two hours later to review the results.  Yes, my breast is lumpy and no, they aren’t cancerous lumps.  I got my clean bill of health and remain NED.  No Evidence of Disease.  We talked of Vita’s mother, as he was her surgeon too and then made plans to meet again next year.

I was happy in a relived way.  A deep exhale and release of fears that were making a home in the dark recess of my brain. Nesting really. I am healthy and I am fine. I need to get used to the idea.  I meet with my Nurse Practitioner later this week.  “I see we are kicking you out.” My surgeon says this with a smile.  He’s not done with me yet but it seems we are headed in that direction too.

This is the boardwalk where it happened... hard to see in this photo.

This is the boardwalk where it happened… hard to see in this photo.

Lisa and I have gotten into the habit in the early evening of riding Citibikes down along the Hudson River Path to Chambers Street.  We park the bikes there and then walk along the river back home to Chelsea.  Tonight I wanted to celebrate my continued good health and she agreed to join me for the ride.  It was on our walk along a little boardwalk portion that we passed three little boys ranging in ages of 4, 6 and 10.  They were very animated with a unified panicked voice.  Their mother was on her stomach with her head under a wooden bench.  One of the little boys said, “She’s trying to help a baby bird.  If she doesn’t catch it, it will die.  Parakeets can’t live through the winter.”  His eyes were of the purest and sweetest kind and they were filled with a sincere desire to help this bird.

Just then the mother stood up.  She had a look of sorrow. “The boys won’t let us leave the bird here and I don’t know what to do.”

I owned a Parakeet for 13 years.  Vivian.  A million Vivian stories could fill this blog but for now you need only know… I know parakeets.  I said, “Would you like me to try and help?  I had a parakeet once.”  The boys jumped in excitement.  It took me all of 5 minutes to have the bird in hand.  It was a baby and it was used to being handled.  We put it in a bag and it was decided that they would keep the bird.  I gave them my email address in case it didn’t work out.  The boys jumped up and down in a dance of pure joy and as we departed the smallest one called out, “Thank you for catching the baby bird.”  I waved goodbye.

The small things are treasures.
True treasures.
There are no greater treasures than the little things.
One is enough to enrich the moment.
Just one is enough to change the world. 

OK, catching a baby parakeet isn’t going to change the world but it felt good.  There were six of us standing in the evening light deciding what would be best for a baby bird.  Three of us were so new to the world that their enthusiasm and innocence felt contagious.  They left with a bird in a bag and a spring in their step that challenged gravity with securing them to the earth. I left with a sense of joy in my heart.

I needed that.

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17 Responses to Little Bird

  1. Daile says:

    Mae, this was a beautiful and sad story full of sorrow and hope all at the same time.

    Firstly, I loved the poem and now I want to see the illustrations, what a wonderful idea for a baby shower.
    Secondly, I’m sorry for your friends (and your) loss, losing a parent is never easy.
    Thirdly, happy to hear you are in the clear, it can’t be easy living with a fear of cancer returning
    And lastly, I hope that baby parakeet has a wonderful and long life with that family.

    I really loved reading this, thank you

    • maesprose says:

      Thanks Daile. I’m really happy you liked the poem/story. It is my absolute favorite. It lent itself to my meeting with the boys yesterday. I too hope the parakeet has a wonderful life with that family. Thank you for your condolences. I think Mrs. M’s decline added fuel to my fears. I am very happy to have been pronounced healthy and so very sorry for Vita’s loss. You pegged it when you said the post was full of sorrow and hope all at the same time. That describes the spot I’m in lately!

  2. Colleen says:

    Keep living in the moment – and relishing in the little rewards. Fear will always come knocking…as it always needs a place to seek refuge…don’t let it stay long…give it a drink and tell it to keep on going…

  3. John says:

    I’m thrilled and pleased to hear your good news: NED!

    I know that we both have different diseases, but, I think the cycles are the same … the fear at seeing or finding a spot or lump, the fear of what it means, the almost obsessive thinking about it until we see the doctor, the fear as we sit in the waiting room, awaiting our turn… and the indescribable relief that, at least this time, all is ok. So, I have an idea of the mood you were in yesterday, and how the parakeet story is illustrative of so much — it’s like you had your own, real life encounter with a metaphor.

    I’m sorry to hear of your friend’s passing …. my sincerest sympathies to you, her friends, and to her family.

    And, oh yeah …. as long as you don’t mind, here’s a Big Ol’ Hug from Denver!

  4. darsword says:

    Oh, that was such a beautiful, bittersweet post. Congratulations and condolences.

  5. darsword says:

    Reblogged this on Darswords and commented:
    This was such a beautiful post that I thought I should share.

  6. LB says:

    My emotions went from loving the poem; to sadness about Vita (who got you throught the dark hours); to total agreement about the silliness of some baby showers; to elation over your mammogram(!!!!!!); to smiles as I imagined the joy of those children after you rescued the bird.
    Wow, Mae, what a post.
    Love that poem and again, so happy for you! what a huge freaking relief (sorry .. it seemed appropriate to say that)

  7. elroyjones says:

    I love this post for the obvious reasons. It made me sad for different obvious reasons. Vita has been such a strong friend in your dispatches, the loss of her mother must leave a lonely spot.
    I am relieved at your wonderful news and at the parakeet’s rescue.

  8. nancyspoint says:

    An incredible post. You covered a lot of ground here! Yes, the poem is wonderful. The message is superb. The small things so often are indeed the treasures for our hearts. I’m so sorry about your friend’s sad news and it was so ironic that you were going to a baby shower on the same day you received her devastating news. Life is such a blend of joy and sadness isn’t it? I’m so glad to hear you are NED. Wonderful news. And I like your doc said he was kicking you out!.And finally, your parakeet story – yes, again the small things… Thanks for a terrific post.

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