Sam’s Storybook
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Sam’s Storybook

Mourning baby birds as the world opens up

It started with three eggs. Smooth and blue. The kind of blue you only get on mornings without haze or mist or fog. Tucked in a nest left over from last year. Tidied up but structurally old.

It was mid-April and I was losing control of my nervous system. (I was ignoring the fact that I was losing control of my nervous system.)

I left my window open one night and swore to the chorus of frogs that I was ready for new growth. I could lose the coping mechanisms — the insomnia in particular — and enter our new world more whole. More in control.

Everything was going right. Or going in the right direction. I watched a cardinal fling cherry blossoms from the top of a tree in a dress that dropped a trail of sequins. I was one shot away from hugging my best friends’ kids.

The robins hatched. Three tiny, naked, squirming dinosaurs. Their eyes big and black and covered in milky skin. They were beautiful.

I imbued them with myself, I think. Gave them the infant parts of me that I wanted to nourish, so that when I emerged, fully vaccinated, from my own nest, people liked me.

I was crying a lot those days, which is saying a lot for a pretty regular cryer. Food made me sick, I couldn’t focus on work, or much of anything. I felt, for some days, that I had tried so hard to be better that instead I had regressed back into my worst form. That it would always be this way — that I would never grow because I was so scared of change my body rejected it.

At the instruction of my friends, I called the doctor who got me out of that form the first time. We talked about transitions. We talked about confidence.

One of the baby birds went missing.

I, already deeply in panic-mode, panicked and started planning for how to protect the remaining two chicks. My dad told me I couldn’t. You can’t mess with nature. These things happen. They’ve happened before.

But not to a bird that was me. Another went missing the next night.

I was hollow. So empty that every tiny thing rattled though my entire body. Creaking and pinching and flinging me further away from something I could reel back in. I stopped checking the nest. Couldn’t handle seeing it as vacant as my chest.

I made other choices too. Even as I felt I had none. I stopped drinking coffee. I started digging in the garden and lifting soil. I paid attention to my exhales. I didn’t forget to take my medication.

I was driving to my friend’s house when I could tell the spell had lifted. For a moment I couldn’t put a finger on what I was feeling. Couldn’t recognize happiness. But then I did, and it felt like I was someone who I knew again. Someone whose path I made. Whose path I could make.

A few days later, I summoned the courage to peek in the nest. There was the one bird. Feathers in place of translucent skin.

It flew away a few days ago. Born and grown and fledged as I heaved and stalled and froze.

But I guess we can’t be everything at once. I guess growth takes remembering the things you carry everywhere even when you hate them. I guess I’m still scared of fledging. Still desperate to build something whole from all this fractured love. I guess I’ll keep trying.

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Samantha Harrington

Samantha Harrington

Freelance journo and designer. I write. A lot. Tea obsessed but need coffee to live. Usually dancing- poorly.