“Is this the last day?” my nearly four-year-old grandboy asked his mommy, “and then we will die?”

“No, we are not dying,” Sarah told him.

“…yet?” Daniel added.

There’s been some darkness around here, lately.

A few days ago, I learned that one of the most lovely women I know, full of light and joy and a twinkle in her eye passed away from cancer on Valentine’s Day. If a person could be called a sparkle, it was Lee.

I didn’t even know she’d been sick.

I’d taken a year or so away from my church congregation, just to give myself time to adjust from leaving a job I loved so much, to have the freedom to travel on the weekend, and to try some new things. A lot can happen in a year. Good things and tough things.

A lot can happen in an hour, too.

“What was that noise?” I called from my desk. Nobody answered. Todd must be in the garage, working on the car. 

I heard it again. And again. THUD.

Was it Rosie? Sometimes my goofy golden retriever will stretch out on her back and hang her head off the couch. One good yawn and she’ll fall to the floor.

Nope, Rosie was in the garage with Todd.

But then I saw three smudges of tiny feathers on our big picture window.

We’d just had our windows cleaned, and while the guys worked, I’d spied on them. Rosie stands at that window much of the day, slobbering all over it while she watches the world, but when I clean it up there are always streaks. I wanted to see how the pros do it. I watched and learned. I bought a squeegee. I made that window shine, unfortunately for a flock of cedar waxwings on their way to Florida.

Maybe they’re okay, I told myself. Maybe they got up and flew off, a little dizzy. No. At least one of them didn’t make it. Todd found it beside Festus’s heating pad on the floor of the garage. That cat might be old and deaf and take thyroid medicine twice a day, but he had enough pep to carry in a bird. Not to eat it–just to admire it at his bedside.

We’re in the season of Lent now, forty days to go deeper with God and get ready for Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday, which, this year, collided with Valentine’s Day. In case you don’t know, Ash Wednesday’s the day we acknowledge our need for God. We remember that we started from dust and we’ll be dust again one day. I had to miss the service, but I put an app back on my phone that my dark heart loves. It’s called WeCroak. (I’m not making it up.) It’s based on a Bhutanese folk saying that to be a happy person, you must contemplate death five times a day. So, five times a day, it sends me quotes about living and dying. It may sound weird–and it is–but it reminds me to live my life and love it. And I do!

Sarah and the boys came over for dinner last night. Right away, they noticed the bird silhouette I’d taped to the window. “What’s that for?” Daniel asked. I told them about the birds as they climbed a chair to touch it. “Where are they?” they asked, wanting to see them. “We only found one,” I said. “We buried it.”

Daniel raised an eyebrow. “Where did the other ones go?”

“I don’t know,” I shrugged.

He patted the construction paper bird and we went to wash hands.

Maybe they’ve made it to Georgia by now. I hope they’re enjoying the view.