“hope is the thing with feathers…”

I believe in angels.
I don’t mean that I believe in the winged icons that hang with halos as holiday ornaments.
I believe in benevolent forces, the spirits of those we’ve loved and lost, that watch over us, protect us and guide us through our days.
When I’ve needed help, or dug down deep for strength, I’ve been given a sign that a loved one was with me.
My grandmother passed away when I was thirteen.
That year I became a Jewish adult, as I became a Bat-Mitzvah.
A new woman was added to our family.
And, sadly, a woman was lost.
We said goodbye to our matriarch,
As Life took away the centerpiece of our own dining room table.
Before she passed away, when she knew that she would be leaving us,
We asked her how she was feeling.
She said that she knew she would be back.
She knew she would be around,
Able to look after us.
She told us that she would come back as a bird.
We asked her how we would know she was there, since birds are all around us.
She told us to look for feathers.
Since that time, I’ve been blanketed by feathers when I’ve needed the warmth.
Feathers have reminded me to have strength.
Feathers have given me faith.
In the two weeks before I found out I was pregnant,
A wish that I hoped with every ounce of being would come true,
I saw at least 20 feathers.
They were on my front porch.
They were on the sidewalk, as I walked the dogs down the street.
They were poking out of my shirt
(and this was August, mind you….it was not as if I was wearing a down coat).
So before I officially knew that I was pregnant,
I just knew.

As I’ve said, even though I knew, in my head and in my heart, I didn’t believe that my wish had actually come true until the nurse called me on that late August day and said nothing besides, “Congratulations, dear.”
I called my husband at work.
He answered, nervously.
He knew that I would be receiving my test results in that hour.
I asked him if he was ready to be a daddy.
He didn’t say a word, just sobbed softly.
“I knew it,” he told me. “There’s a giant, brown feather lying across my desk.”
That feather told us more than those HCG blood test results ever could.
I was pregnant.
Our dream was coming true.
Our loved ones were watching, celebrating from above.
I saw many birds and many feathers throughout my pregnancy.
They always just appeared,
just when I needed them.
The night that I had my daughter, I didn’t see any feathers. I could barely see anything. It was my fourth trip into labor and delivery. Nothing was going as planned.
When they wheeled me into the OR in the middle of the night, I was lying on the operating table, and I felt scared.
I didn’t feel particularly strong.
I couldn’t find my faith.
When my husband was allowed to come back in the room he held my hand and didn’t let go.
The anesthesiologist, peering over the tall blue draping that separated my head from my abdomen, told me that it was time.
The baby would be coming now.
I still felt scared.
Then, my husband squeezed my hand and told me to listen to the radio. I hadn’t noticed that the radio had been playing the entire time that I was in the OR.
My ears perked up.
It was “Desperado”, by The Eagles.
It was my grandmother’s favorite song.
At that moment, I knew that we would be ok.
The chorus of our own angels were with us, serenading my daughter as she entered into the world.
Don Henley sang,
It may be rainin’
But there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you
Before it’s too late.

And the next sound we heard was the tiny wail of my daughter’s first cry.
I have never heard a more perfect sound.
And I know, with all of my heart,
That my angels were listening with us,
Smiling from above,
The rainbow that would forever shine on our precious baby girl.
So, the next time you see a feather,
Lying in a place that it really shouldn’t be lying,
I hope you that it makes you smile.
And I hope that it gives you faith.
Because no matter what you believe,
Or don’t believe,
Your loved ones are all around you.
It just depends on how hard you look.


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