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. â€œItâ€™s OK. Stay calm,â€ as I moved slowly toward the big window and removed the screen before tiptoeing back to the door so he wouldnâ€™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. â€œA Loon!â€ I cried, thinking of my last post, shocked to see this bird at this moment. â€œThatâ€™s a cormorant,â€ Kirsty corrected me, â€œbut they are so similar.â€ 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 Margieâ€™s and two Pattyâ€™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. â€œWhales!â€ 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.
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. â€œI think its wing is broken,â€ 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.
Like the Orcas, the day was filled with calm, slow movements, quiet, peace. A day I couldnâ€™t have imagined ten years ago, as I wondered where I might be ten years on â€“ 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.