Robin loved birds so very much. She seemed captivated by their colors and songs and she watched as they soared and flew above the grass-filled fields. I now shamefully admit and mournfully regret that I never bothered to ask what fascination she found in the lives of those soaring things of beauty. I now painfully find that the time to speak to Robin has passed.
For years, Robin filled the yards of our homes with an array of unusual birdhouses. Small structures built of wood, metal or anything else which she believed might provide a nesting place for her friends were placed on poles or hung from tree branches. She spent countless hours cleaning the boxes and was peculiarly persnickety when selecting just the right food for the intended species of bird.
The bird lover has for some time now been gone, but the birds and their strategically-placed homes remain. I sometimes watch as nesting materials are carried into the openings of the small boxes and wonder when the babies might be expected. But, I far too often get distracted with the tugging of life at my sleeve and lose interest in the lives of the birds -- that is until something most odd occurred over the span of three short days.
I find that when the spring sun lasts longer into the evening hours, I enjoy sitting in the old metal glider. The metal chair that rests on the balcony just outside my bedroom isn't really old but looks just like the ones I remember as a child. It really isn't all that comfortable, but the great memories I have of its ancestors far outweigh its practicality.
One particularly warm and bright evening found me nestled onto the glider's seat while a glass of lemonade sat on a chairside table. The glass was just within reach and I tried to estimate how long the liquid would last, given the size of each sip. I calculated that I would find the glass to be empty just as the darkness chased the light from the sky.
The balcony was built more than 10 years ago, as was the house in which I now live. It has a white colored railing that spans the outside perimeter, and the space is large enough for the glider, a metal love seat and a single side table. Enough unaccounted for space remains to allow for infrequent visitors to stand against that white vinyl railing and look out over the golf course and the tree-filled bluffs beyond.
As I rhythmically moved the seat on that glider forward and backward, I heard a noise just off to my right. Slowly turning my head, the sight of an American robin came into view. The orange-breasted bird seemed brazenly courageous as it had come to rest on the railing. The robin was easily within arm's reach, and I remember thinking that possibly the bird had miscalculated the length of my arm's span.
The bird seemed quite comfortable there on that rail and appeared to have little or no fear of my presence. I was careful to keep my movements to a minimum as I didn't want to cause the bird to leave. A feeling of quiet contentment came over me, and the robin and I enjoyed one another's company for several minutes. Then, and without as much as a nod or chirp, the robin sprang from the rail and flew away.
The following evening was one of warmth as a moderate breeze seemed to cause the large oak tree's branches to move to and fro as if in rhythm with all that is nature. As I once again sat in that rust colored glider and recalled the previous evening's visit by that beautiful auburn chested turdus migratorius, the sight of a bird in flight captured my attention. I watched as the robin softly came to rest on that same white rail. I'll admit that I spoke to the robin, "hello." Maybe this was the beginning of a most unusual friendship, and I desperately needed a friend.
The odd duo spent several minutes on that balcony together. Now, I can't speak for that bird, but I once again felt an overwhelming sense of calm and serenity. Several minutes passed and as if to say, "So long," the Robin chirped once, then flew off into the darkening sky. I said, "Goodbye, maybe I'll see you tomorrow."
I spent the following day waiting only for the evening to arrive, all the while telling myself that I was being foolish. What made me think that the robin would again find its way to my balcony and that rail, but I could only hope.
Following the previous two evenings spent with the robin, I gave some consideration to the possibility of placing an old birdcage on a balcony table. The door would be left ajar and food left there inside might entice the orange and grey bird into that impound.
I somehow thought that, if I captured that bird, I could discover why I felt such a close relationship with the robin. But, then I considered the reality; I had once before tried everything possible to keep my best friend Robin with me but I had failed. There seemed something so very wrong with the idea of caging this robin.
The sun began to fall in the western sky and I filled a glass with lemonade. I recall that I wasn't at all thirsty, but there was a routine that couldn't be changed. I walked through the French doors and onto the balcony, placed the liquid-filled glass on that side table and lowered myself onto the seat of that familiar metal glider.
Then, and almost before I had settled my old aching bones onto that seat, the robin came to rest on that rail. "Hello, how are you this fine spring evening? It's been a mighty long time." There, of course, was no obvious translatable answer, just one, and only one, chirp. But I'll forever maintain that the robin gazed at me when emitting that sound; that single sound.
We sat together for a time longer than that of either of the previous evenings. "Why do you keep coming to this balcony each evening?" Only one chirp was given in response. After the passage of several minutes, the bird shook its feathers and several chirps were heard. I can't explain why I felt as I did, but I somehow knew that the robin would never again sit with me in the evenings. Once more the robin sprang from the rail and flew into the evening sky. "Goodbye."
I knew what I wanted to believe, but I needed allies, others who believed an idea may, in fact, be plausible. Reincarnation: I didn't know much about the idea that a soul lived forever and could reappear in another form, another living entity. But what if that were in fact possible? After all, I believe that whatsoever the mind can imagine is possible. There were documented instances of possible reincarnations.
Gus Taylor told his parents that he recalled a previous life. He remembered details that only his grandfather Augie could have known and at the age of four identified his grandfather in a group of photographs. Taylor had never before seen his grandfather. The boy recognized his grandfather's car in a photograph and said it was, "his car."
Finally, and most certainly, most astonishing was the moment when, at the age of four, Gus told his parents that his sister had been murdered. In fact, Augie's sister had been murdered. Gus Taylor's knowledge of these facts has never been explained.
The Druze, a religious sect, believes that reincarnation is in fact possible. The Druze believe that reincarnation occurs among everyone. They deem that some but not all of the reincarnated souls bring with them memories of previous lives.
The Bible, yes the Bible, surely there would be accounts of souls living in another body. However, the reassurance of a belief in reincarnation was nowhere to be found within the pages of that holy book. Although the Bible speaks of resurrection and the rebirth of the soul, it does not support the idea of reincarnation. I knew what I wanted to believe but the book of the Christians offered no support. What I wanted so desperately to believe came down to no more than my own abstract faith in an idea. So, I made my decision.
Robin, I let you go, I let you fly with the angels above with the thought that I would never again feel your presence, but could I have been mistaken. What if the substance of whom you were, your very soul, had returned? I challenged my own sanity with the question: am I so desperate for this small and beautiful creature to be the reincarnation of your soul that my feelings are born more of imagination than of fact. It was certainly something to be considered.
I often find that the evenings are the best time of the day. The cool air comes over the land and the orange setting sun hints at the approach of darkness but "not just yet." The evening is a time when the sun bids goodbye to yet another day's passing and that day will never come again.
I continue to spend warm evenings on the balcony but the robin, that orange-breasted bird, was last seen flying into the darkening sky. Maybe robins are there for only a moment in time, then they must leave, but love certainly lasts far longer than just one lifetime.
Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel, Mo. Stan's connection to Noel can be traced back to his grandparents who lived most of their lives there. Stan began writing after the passing of his wife Robin in 2013. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 08/30/2018
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