You may remember that I had a hummingbird nesting on my backyard deck. I was thrilled to see two tiny hummingbirds emerge within the nest. Momma sat warming her babies diligently for many days, leaving for short periods of time to collect nourishment for her and her babies.
Then one day, I noticed the babies were growing strong enough to lift their beaks into view. I watched as momma came with food for them. The stronger bird always seemed to get the sustenance while the other one waited patiently. I prayed that I just wasn’t around to see when momma fed her other little birdie. I am sure that she did indeed feed both of them.
But as the days passed, I only saw one head emerging. On March 21st, the anniversary of my husband’s passing, I peaked in with my selfie stick and confirmed that only one of the babies was visible in the nest. I assumed that the other had not survived; it was no where to be seen. On top of that, it seemed that momma was distancing herself from the nest. Overwhelmed with sadness, I worried that the other would not survive. But I didn’t want to touch the nest for fear that she would completely abandon her remaining baby. I cried and prayed a lot that day.
I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that I couldn’t help but experience my own grief as I eyed the nest from a distance. I’ve never lost a child but my experience of losing my husband tells me that losing a child has got to be FAR more profound emotionally than what I went through years ago. But there is no forgetting the intense feeling of not wanting to get out from under my covers in those initial days, weeks, and even months. I did so because I had to. My sons needed me to help them and to show them that we could be okay. So I did what I could to create a new norm as we navigated the grief together. It wasn’t easy.
As I reflected on those earlier days of grieving, I prayed that momma hummingbird could find that same strength that I did. And I prayed even more when the sun seemed to retreat and the nights got cold over the days that followed.
Please, baby hummingbird, hang on. Your momma is coming back. I know she is.
Thankfully, the remaining baby held on and waited for momma’s return. Momma didn’t spend a lot of time at the nest but she was coming regularly and, it seemed, that her baby was getting what she needed to grow and generate enough heat to keep warm at night.
Little by little, momma and baby seemed to be finding their strength and building up the momentum to move on with life — as we all must do. Baby was quickly filling out and spilling out over the top of the tiny nest.
Then, one day I noticed that momma was coming by rather frequently with nourishment — and also just to check in (it seemed). I began wondering…
Could it be time for baby hummingbird to leave the nest?
I watched, and watched as the little babe sat perched on the edge of the teeny nest. She cleaned and fluffed her feathers, fluttered them a bit, and sat some more. It was as if she was gathering her courage to take flight.
A bit later, I went out back with the dogs and threw the ball around for them in the yard. I eyed the nest but she stayed put. Momma bird was no longer frequenting the little home that had grown this beautiful little creature. After a bit, the dogs and I walked back to the house and, as we walked past the nest, our little friend took off.
Although momma had come by the nest one last time after the baby left, the little baby did not return. A few days later, I peaked inside only to find the one that hadn’t survived still inside. Although I considered burying the baby, a few days later, I moved the string of lights with the nest still attached to a nearby tree so that momma and her baby can visit any time they want.
And today, I think I saw my little friend sipping the sweet nectar from the lavender bush in my front yard.