A redbird came knocking. I looked up from my comfy spot on the sectional. I just wrote a letter to my friend. Through my tears, I saw the beautiful cardinal on my sliding glass door looking at me. He knocked again, his beak tapping the glass. “Hello”, I said, or thought. A few seconds of just staring at each other, then he flew. I was reminded of a saying I heard once. “When a cardinal appears in your yard, it is a visitor from heaven”. A trite saying that held no validity in my book– after all, the cardinal is Kentucky’s state bird, and they’re plentiful here and are bound to appear in your yard. I do see them often from my couch where the view is looking into woods from the 2nd floor balcony. But, the bird encounter intrigued me none the less. The reason is, my friend who had just passed away, was the one who I head this saying from. Donna would often say things like “Whenever I see a monarch butterfly, its’ my brother visiting me from heaven”. She found comfort in this as she grieved his recent loss. I would indulge her of this source of comfort by giving her cards or gifts with butterflies on them to make her smile.
Donna passed away after a long battle of cancer. I knew it would be soon, but I did not get a chance to say goodbye. Her son called me the night she passed after looking through her contacts in her cell phone. He said she spoke of me as a good friend. And he offered me the opportunity to come there to see “her” before they called the funeral home to remove the body. I declined as I cried; I had no desire to see her lifeless body- I wouldn’t find comfort in that this night. I wished I had been notified to come to her side prior to her passing. I told him I was sorry for his loss of his mother and asked that he please let me know if there would be a service. The next day, I received a link to her obituary; there would be no funeral due to Covid- only a privately held service.
A few days later, my thoughts of her came in a wave of sadness. I felt I had no closure. I took pen to paper and wrote her a letter to say goodbye. I shared with her some fond memories I held of our working together at the hospital, her nickname for me “Vanna” (a private joke). And the memories of laughter, tears, and heart to heart girlfriend talks. I was glad she was no longer suffering. I knew she was in heaven with Jesus- (Oh, and Elvis… she loved her velvet Elvis) Ha Ha!
The timing of the Cardinal visit was perfect. I sat there thinking how weird this was and coincidental. I thought in my head “Donna, is that you?” Laughing at myself for even thinking that; but, still, I pondered. So I said a little ‘prayer’. If this incident is a sign from Donna, then please allow me to see another Red Bird today, that doesn’t involve my house, these woods, this setting. I guess I just wanted another ‘sign’. Then I released the thought and forgot it. I went about my plans to meet my friend Deb to do some local business shopping.
It was a cold, sunny day. We started at Findlay Market, and then went to Bellevue’s small business district. We enjoyed walking through shops, and stopped for lunch. As we were heading back to the car, we just stopped in one last shop. The glass storefront had a myriad of items displayed. The one thing that caught my eye was a brown purse, western motif that looked like something Donna carried. A quick thought of her flashed in my mind, and then it was gone. But, there it was… the second I walked into the store- a Cardinal- A sign- literally, a sign to hang. A picture of a cardinal with the saying “When a Cardinal lands in your yard, it’s a visitor from heaven”. I stood there in a sort of awe, and said out loud, “There it is, a redbird”. Deb said “there are redbirds all over this place”. Then I saw-little redbirds lined up on a shelf. I briefly told Deb my ‘prayer’ requesting a sign if it was Donna visiting me. She flippantly said “well here’s your sign”, pointing to the painted sign with the trite saying; the one I had thought Donna made up, but apparently she didn’t because it’s a ‘thing’.
Laughing, I felt like the whole incident was awesome! Deb said “well let’s go- that was the only reason we came here”. As we exited the place, I looked once again at the glass storefront and its treasures. This time, I saw something else, the redbird signs, many of them, in different shapes and varieties. It was like the message reiterating, “Here’s your sign”. Once again, the whole thing just made me smile, because Donna was a person who could say the harshest things with such affection, I felt her sarcasm was coming through, to communicate with me. As we walked down this familiar street in Bellevue, smiling, I realized, this being Donna’s home town, was the perfect place to get my ‘sign’.
This story doesn’t’ inspire everyone, but I did share it with a few family members that weekend as it was fresh with me; the feeling, the lightheartedness of it, the comfort. I relayed it to my sister over the phone later that day, sharing the events as they unfolded. She wanted me to send her a picture of Donna, as she had never met her before. I sent the obituary link. It had a recent good picture of her with her beloved dog. My sister texted back “Ha Ha, you didn’t tell me there was a redbird on it”. I inquired what she was talking about, and she said “check the link, there’s a redbird on her obituary photo”. When I did, there it was, a Cardinal on the lower right corner of her picture! I did not see this before. I shared my surprise with my sister and had another good laugh as she said “Donna is making sure you don’t forget her” It was just a cool thing that transpired and left me feeling giddy.
Ok, jump ahead- a few days later. I went once again to the obituary link to read any new tributes that may have posted to the site. When the picture opened up, to my surprise, no redbird! Instead, in its place on the right lower corner of her picture, a red flower, with a monarch butterfly! I don’t know what to say to that, but it just struck me very odd. So, I’ll just let it all go at that and believe; because I want to. It is comforting in a weird way; and maybe there is no coincidence when you have faith.
Gloria Herms . Dec 5, 2020