A Universe At Peace

Missing the moment with my iPhone

The bird found himself in my room despite no doors or windows being open anywhere in the house. He flapped around the far window trying desperately to find his way out. I whispered to him. “It’s OK. Stay calm,” as I moved slowly toward the big window and removed the screen before tiptoeing back to the door so he wouldn’t fly out of the room. Within moments he was free and I climbed back into bed for more sleep. I was conscious of the time, that it was 8:47am, the time that Arron called me that morning. These things no longer go unnoticed. I lay in bed both wanting to remember and wanting to forget that terrible morning. Instead I fell into a deep sleep.

Later, I woke up, the sun higher in the sky. I made tea and walked down to the beach to find Kirsty, my cousin, newly relocated to Vancouver from London after her own loss, her own trauma just a year ago. Pep had drowned, Kirsty unable to save him. Now we were together united in loss, each helping the other through our anniversaries, hers 11 days before mine. Elevens continue to haunt me.

I found Kirsty at the beach, lying in the grass playing with Millie. I sat beside her and looked out to the water and spotted a Loon. “A Loon!” I cried, thinking of my last post, shocked to see this bird at this moment. “That’s a cormorant,” Kirsty corrected me, “but they are so similar.” We watched as it ducked under the water, resurfacing a few minutes later a surprising distance down the beach.

On our walk, we bumped into neighbours. Two Margie’s and two Patty’s. We chatted, and watched Millie chase Crema, a doberman three times her size before continuing on our way. As we neared the point, Kirsty, walking a little ahead shouted and began to run. “Whales!” I looked up and saw them, three black fins curving gracefully through the water, their white collared markings in startling contrast against their smooth black bodies. Orcas. A symbol of calm, connectedness to the spirit, connection to the unconscious mind. Silently we watched in awe. Pep and Arron rising from the depths, water, waves.

Someone else capturing exactly what they looked like

The Pattys and the Margies arrived, but by then a boat had gotten too close and the Orcas had disappeared. We stood scanning the water, hoping to see them once more. Kirsty spotted them smoothly traversing the wake of the ferry which was making its way back to Seattle. We spotted a nervous looking sea lion sticking close to shore.

When it was evident that the whales had passed, Kirsty and I continued around the point, finding a large rock to sit on, still half-heartedly looking for the whales. We marveled at the rarity of the event. To spot whales on 9/11, on Vashon as we both mourned our lost loves. As we sat, tiny silver fish began leaping out of the water, close to shore, performing an acrobatic show for us.

Our reverie was interrupted by Carter who called, breathless, panicked about a bird in the house. A second bird. “I think its wing is broken,” he said. I instructed him to open the exterior doors, close the interior ones and hide in the kitchen till we returned. But when we got back, the bird was gone, hopefully free and not broken.

Olivia, who had stayed in Seattle, burdened already with homework rushed to tell us of her encounter with a hummingbird that remained hovering by a flower despite her getting close enough for it to touch her.

Kirsty and I under the September 10th moon

Like the Orcas, the day was filled with calm, slow movements, quiet, peace. A day I couldn’t have imagined ten years ago, as I wondered where I might be ten years on – watching the birds and Orcas and fish, things I took as a sign of a universe at peace.


PS: Thank you to everyone who sent me their kind thoughts yesterday. It was wonderful to receive so many words of comfort.




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  1. Rebecca Young September 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    It’s funny how such symbolism can really talk to us when we stop long enough to take note and listen.
    Gorgeous. xxx

    1. Abigail - Site Author September 13, 2011 at 9:12 am

      yes, sometimes its the stopping and listening that’s the hard part. Thanks Rebecca.

  2. Tom September 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I love the way nature speaks to us when we’re ready to listen, especially about those we’ve lost. When these moments happen to me the message is “I’m always here, I’m everywhere, I always have and always will be, just be still and I will find you.”

    1. Abigail - Site Author September 13, 2011 at 9:10 am

      Perfect Tom, thank you.

  3. Melissa September 12, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    You were very much on my mind yesterday, and I’m glad it was a day of comfort and symbolism for you (and Kirsty). And this post is absolutely extraordinary (just shared it on my FB page).

    1. Abigail - Site Author September 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

      Thanks so much Melissa.

  4. Dianne September 13, 2011 at 8:05 am

    I couldn’t say it any better than Tom did. A beautiful post, Abby.

    1. Abigail - Site Author September 13, 2011 at 9:13 am

      yes, Tom nailed it. Thanks Dianne.

  5. Aline (a fellow Canadian) September 13, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    While watching the memorial of 9/11, I thought of you and hoped that you were having a peaceful day wherever you might be.

    Since my husband passed away (20 months today), I have tried to find signs that he is still with us. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any! Maybe I haven’t been ready to listen…
    My 16 year old daughter finds comfort whenever she sees a dragonfly and she always spots one at the right moment. She knows that her dad is always watching over her.
    Thank you Abigail for sharing your experiences – I find strength in your messages.

  6. Jill Schacter October 13, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Amazing but not surprising. I also had an incident with a bird in my house after Ken died. I have no idea how it got in my house. Before I was able to free it, it knocked over a Zuni fetish of a white bear, a little icon, believed to have healing power, that I had given to Ken during his cancer treatment. I am glad you have this peace that you describe. Thank you for sharing your words.

  7. Lucy McBees October 15, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    A beautiful post, Abby. I have not right words to say you…I will come back for sure…

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