5: A Little Bird Told Me

5: A Little Bird Told Me

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

  
A Little Bird Told Me

Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible and receives the impossible.
~Author Unknown

I am sitting in the movie theater with my husband and tears are welling up in my eyes. We are watching About Schmidt with Jack Nicholson. It’s the scene where a colleague is looking at a photo of Jack’s daughter on his desk and says, “She’s beautiful, does she live close by?” Jack responds, “She’s the apple of my eye. I think about her every day. She’s 3,000 miles away, in California, but it’s okay—I see her a couple of times a year.”

In the darkened theater, my husband glances over at me and whispers, “Honey what’s wrong?” Tears are streaming down my cheeks now, and I choke out the words, “We have to move back to Canada. I have to be with my Dad.”

I had always been the apple of my daddy’s eye, and I knew that he was thinking of me every day, many times a day. I grew up in Toronto, Canada, but had moved to Los Angeles to be an actress. I was enjoying a successful career, had found an amazing group of friends and loved L.A. But I missed my family so much, and they missed me. I had been living in California for fifteen years. I had gotten married, and had two wonderful children. And even though we always came home for Christmas, and my parents came to see us in the spring, it never felt like enough. I had watched both my husband and my best friend lose their dad and mom, respectively. I saw how devastating that had been for them. My husband had been planning to go on a trip with his dad for years—they never got to do it. My best friend got a call that her mom was in I.C.U., raced to the hospital to be with her, but did not make it there in time.

The secondhand experience of those losses became a huge blessing in my life.

My dad was having health issues and a voice in my head had been getting louder and louder: it was telling me that time might be running low for him. Nothing was technically life-threatening, but my “daughter’s intuition” was on high alert, and I was listening. And I am so grateful that I was, because in that moment, in that movie, I made the decision to totally re-route my life … and, thankfully, my husband and kids supported my decision and happily came along on the adventure with me.

We moved back the summer of 2003. Instead of seeing my parents twice a year, we started to see them every week. We all had so many great times together. My dad came to see my son play hockey, played cards with my daughter, and he and I would go out for breakfast a lot—that was one of our favorite things to do. We did all the simple little things there isn’t time for when visits are rushed or pressured and you are trying to fit a million things into one week’s vacation.

I wanted to be there for my dad, and I was. I wanted to have my kids get to know him, and they did. Most of all, as crazy as it seemed, and as hard as it was for me to leave my friends and life, I followed my heart, and for that I will always be grateful.

Because, after four and a half years, it happened. My dad went into the hospital for simple issues with circulation and one night, in front of my eyes, he had a massive heart attack and the next morning he died.

I was shocked, bereft and confused—but I was there.

I did not get the dreaded phone call in the middle of the night. Did not have to fly home and experience all the guilt and regrets that would have gone along with losing him and not being present. I had played that scenario out in my mind, and had done something about it before it happened.

Cut to the day of my dad’s funeral. I was brushing my teeth, staring at myself in the mirror in the daze that comes at such a time. Drained, beyond tired, and cried-out, I caught a little movement out of the corner of my eye. A bird was sitting in the middle of the tree outside the bathroom window. I walked over to the window, turned the crank and opened it. I thought the bird might fly away at the sound—but it didn’t. In fact, it never moved a feather and kept its eyes glued to mine. Suddenly, the world went very quiet, and everything distilled down to the bird and the tree and me. And in that moment, I knew it was my dad, coming to tell me he was okay, and that I would be okay. I felt my deep sorrow lift a little and the bird and I stayed there, our eyes locked on each other for a long time. I finally had to turn away, and when I looked back a split second later, the tree was empty.

Later that week, I was telling the story to a dear friend. She asked me, “What kind of bird was it?” “A robin,” I said, “but he had grey feathers, which is unusual. I don’t know why, but I felt like it was my dad.” My friend grabbed my hand and said, “A robin? Laura, your last name is Robinson.”

And there was one more piece to the story. I got an e-mail from another friend who had been quite close to my dad. She said she had asked a year or so earlier, that when he died, he would send her a sign, and then send the same one to me. My dad had agreed. She was writing to ask me if I had had any “signs” since his passing.

I wrote back and told her my robin story. She immediately replied, “I am covered in shivers right now, because the sign your dad and I agreed upon was a red bird. There was a cardinal on my deck yesterday. He stared at me for ten minutes. I’m sure it was your dad!” I understood then, without a shadow of a doubt that my dad had come to me, was watching over me and would continue to.

It’s always so hard to lose a beloved parent, but what I am grateful for is that I do not have to live with regret: regret that I had moved so far away, that there hadn’t been enough time to be together and to reconnect again after all those years. At the funeral, I said that I knew I had been unconditionally loved every minute of my life. I feel so lucky to have had that blessing.

I miss him every day but I have peace in my heart … and a little bird on my shoulder.

~Laura Robinson

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