Swan Song

Swan Song

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He was so light in my hands. Just a baby really. His face was so alive- eyes open, clear and focused on a sight I would never see.

It was the glass that had caught him. He tried to fly right through the reflection of the forest.

When we found him, his body was still pliable. He hadn’t been there long, with his little feet curled backward mid-flight. There was still a trace of his energy, or that unquantifiable thing we call spirit hovering around his body. Enough that I could feel a connection with his soul.

On his part he was early. It was too soon for him to be lying before me. On my part I was too late, and not soon enough to save him.

His dapper yellow feathers sang out, even while he was silent. He didn’t look dead. Just very very still. I kept waiting for him to jump up, shake off his stunned state and fly away.

We wrapped him in soft white cloth. Carefully lifting him, I stood in the forest surrounded by the sounds of the wind, insects bumbling along, rustling trees, flapping wings.

I cradled him in my hands for a while and sang him a little song of peace. I thanked the world for his life. There was a kind of wordless prayer, a blessing for him as his spirit merged with the great spirit. I released a wish for when he chooses to return here in a new form.

I watched other little birds flit from tree branch to tree, so fast they were difficult to see with the naked eye. So full of life, and song. Like faeries they zoom between places and spaces.

This one seemed so fragile in his stillness. What a difference the energy of life makes. Without it, all I hold is a body and it can do nothing, not even breathe on it’s own.

I have heard it said that we are not breathing the universe, the universe is breathing us.

Here life has taken back its breath leaving only a trace, like a fingerprint of the personality. Tiny clues that point to the larger picture, the life story — but only trace fragments of his magic.

The body can not sing without the voice. There is no breath without the life force, or the will to move the lungs. Just inert matter. Feathers.

My Reiki Master hands vibrate, but there is nothing to connect them to. I write the sacred symbols of my learning on his shell, I cut any cords that might keep him connected (although animals so rarely get stuck here as we do). With his sudden passing, I only wish to make sure the door is open, that he knows it is time to join his tiny voice to the infinite song.

As I released him, carefully unfurling the cloth and offering his body up to the wind over the ravine, the wind held him momentarily and carried him for a split second of time.

Even up to that last moment, I expected to see him rise up on the air with a jaunty flip of his wings.

But instead his tiny body took it’s last flight, and, with a gentle curve, fell back to earth. On a ravine on the edge of the sea where his friends and family continue to sing.

I keep a little song in my heart for him. I am glad to have met his spirit, to have been able to offer up a celebration for his life in the moments after he passed. Because, in the end, isn’t that what we all hope for? To be treated with kindness and compassion and sent off with a prayer and a song and gratitude for who we have been in this life and where we are going?

In truth though, I also am so sad to have met him just a little too late to do more than sing his swan song. Too late to hear him sing.

I take extra time to listen to the singing around me in the trees.

I take a little extra time to sing.

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