Karma

This is an excerpt from my second memoir, Stepping Stones: A Memoir of Addiction, Loss, and Transformation.

“Our first house in Virginia boasted an outdoor speaker system so we could listen to music on the patio. But it was broken and we never had it fixed. 

Instead, the speaker provided a nesting place for a number of birds in the six years we lived there. Every spring, forgetting that it was right next to our kitchen door but high enough for the birds to feel safe from curious humans, I would start to notice the flight of a couple of birds back and forth to the same spot. And there was a maple tree in front of our fence where one of the birds often sat, waiting its turn to be a parent.

“They’re back!” I yelped to my neighbor who was pulling up weeds. I felt foolish, tipping the birds off.

“I want to see how many eggs she’s laid, Angel. Please bring the ladder outside,” I asked as he was hanging up a picture in the dining room.

“Don’t be crazy; if they see you go anywhere near their nest, they’ll abandon it.”

So I left it alone, watching Mom and Pop swoop in and take turns sitting on the eggs.

One May morning I heard a lot of chirping coming from inside the broken speaker, and I observed the parents, one at a time, bringing food to their hatchlings. Such a simple cooperative effort, ensuring the welfare of their young.

Hatchlings became nestlings, and then came the end of the swooping. There were no more parents taking turns at the nest, and the comforting sounds of life, the chirping, had stopped. 

I realized the babies must have been strong enough to leave the nest and test their wings. They had become fledglings, and they were off.

But I saw the female soon afterwards in the maple nearby singing. 

Gosh, those baby birds must be miles away by now. And there was Mom hovering nearby, probably thinking the same thing.

Still I wonder, sometimes, if they can hear their mother singing.”

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