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  • Writer's pictureCardinal Fern

How a hummingbird changed my life

The summer I turned nine, my grandmother passed away from lung cancer. If you have never seen a love one slip slowly away from cancer, consider yourself very lucky and go hug someone who has seen it. I was a tender age were everything felt big, every feeling, every moment it seemed that I was finally in the realization that things can go wrong and sometimes do go wrong.

My grandmother Joshlyn is my father's mother, and as the only granddaughter I held a very special place in her home. I could write a book about all the amazing things that she did over her lifetime (from rescuing all the animals at a kill shelter and rehoming them in a day to hosting annual Easter Egg Hunts for us), but this is about the backlash after her death.

Joshlyn died in July 1996. Her funeral was hot, and overwhelming for all of us. But her funeral isn't what stands out to me from that day. After the condolences and mounds of food that always accompanies a southern funeral, everyone went back to their homes. I was standing on the back porch with my dad, and seeing him in a new light. He had just lost his mother, and for the first time I remember in my life, he was crying. I was lost what to do in that moment as a 9 year old. But Joshlyn knew what he needed.

We were standing at the railing, and a hummingbird hovered a foot from our faces for several seconds. It could have been five seconds or 30, I don't remember. I do remember peace, and knowing that Joshlyn was ok. Joshlyn wasn't in pain anymore and safe. My dad and I stared at that hummingbird until it decided to fly away. Our kitchen phone rang, and my great aunt was calling, she too had just seen a hummingbird hoovering. Two hummingbirds is a coincidence, but then the phone rang again. My aunt had also seen a hummingbird hoovering. Three hummingbirds, at the same time, unnervingly not moving -- that's a miracle.

Ever since that moment I seem to find hummingbirds during times of heartbreak and times of joy. I now put a hummingbird feeder out each year, and love to see them flock and yell at each other to get to the feed. Hummingbird fights are so adorably silly to watch.

Then last year I took a trip of a lifetime to Valparaiso, Chile and there on the sidewalk was a hummingbird. My husband pointed it out and I just knew that Joshlyn was with me always.

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