Gratitude makes the journey better and so does kindness

Lessons on life, death and closure (when least expected)

It was a week ago that it happened. It was a windy day, so I tried to blame it on that, because we always try to bring sense and logic into the happenings that rattle us.

The loud bang was indeed rattling, more so in that early morning silence. The pup dashed in her safe spot in the bedroom, and I ran outside. It was a robin!! Of all things that could’ve happened, a robin hit the window.

Since my mom passed away 16 years go, robins have always been that special being that reminded me of her. April and robins carry both joy and heartbreak for me, and this was all heartbreak.

I was stunned watching the poor bird struggle to take a few last breaths.

I should tell you that I did what a grownup is expected to do… feel bad for the bird and then figure out what to do with it, given that a dead critter is fair game for the rest of them: magpies, crows, or prowling cats.

But I did not. It was just too much. A robin! Of all things that could’ve hit the window!

I picked it up and felt its body warm and soft. The head drooped ever so slightly. A sad, heartbreaking droop that meant one thing: I was holding a lifeless body. No, I did not hold it together. I cried, because it was overwhelmingly sad.

I sat a while, pup by my side, her body pushed a bit closer into mine. Holding space, quietly. I thought of my mom, of our last phone call and her joyfulness. Of how much poorer life has been without her in it.

Losing someone whose heart cradles yours breaks you into a million pieces never to be put back together the same way. Your inner parts are both stunted and growing at the same time.

You find yourself rebuilding your insides again, and again, as you try to redefine yourself. You’re stripped of this essential part of you, and yet through death and grief, you find a meaning that saves you from collapsing.

Death is not something we talk about much in polite company. It’s a negative thing, many say. Let’s talk about positive, happy things. OK, that’s a privilege and a denial too, if you do it all the time. Life is not life without death in it.

But when all goes well and we don’t see death up close, life through rosy-tinted glasses is all the rage. Like I said, it’s a privilege.

My maternal grandma died when I was six. It was sad but I was a bit too young to understand the depth of it. Then when I was nine, my maternal grandpa died. I was old enough to know death is a forever thing and it broke me. I missed him so.

Then my paternal grandparents passed away, and that was sad, but being less attached meant I could deal with it a bit easier.

My mom’s unexpected passing a month before my youngest was to be born left me raw and questioning many things about the world, life, and yes, God too. Nothing made sense, and here’s a pro tip if you find yourself in the realm where nothing makes sense: don’t ask why. There is no good answer. Or an answer, for that matter.

The robin that hit the window and died opened a wound I thought was somewhat healed. I cried as if reliving my mom’s passing. I thought I’d take the bird to the woods where pup and I wander every day, to one of our secret beautiful spots. But then I did not. Instead, I decided to bury the robin in the backyard by the purple clematis.

You may think it silly, it was only a bird, after all. But I found some closure. You see, I was not able to attend my mom’s funeral and it was more painful than words can say.

Now, 16 years later, I buried a robin in a place where I can go sit and be quiet when the path gets too rocky. I found a bit of comfort in what (still) has no sense or logic. Perhaps it’s not about that after all. It’s about acceptance, and about gratefulness. What for, you may ask. For being able to accept the things we cannot change, and instead realizing that we grow into better humans when we allow them to change us.  


About today and why what you do with it matters


Love changes the world – yes, really, and by a lot!


  1. terry shupe

    I don’t think it is illogical that witnessing the unexpected death of one of nature,s creations, can trigger emotions long since dormant, about the passing of a loved one.It is, in my view, a valid part of the human condition.

    • I think you are right, Terry. It’s humbling and yet there’s so much richness in all that pain that is inherent to the human condition. It’s what makes us complete (as much as we can be).

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