Empty Nest

Ahh, spring, the season of new life and rebirth. The joy of blooming flowers and budding trees is only secondary to the sight of the small fuzzy creatures waddling about everywhere. The other day at the park my children and I were treated to a line of feathery goslings crossing our path along the trail. Baby ducks are paddling about lazily in every pond and lake we encounter. Our bluebird box has been graced with five perfect little eggs this year. We wait in anticipation to cheer the fledging of their contents. I’ve always enjoyed sharing the wonders of this precious season with my two boys.

“Mommy!” My youngest’s eyes were alight with excitement. “I just saw a big hawk! And it was carrying its baby in its mouth!”

I bit back the truth to protect his tender heart. But there was no protecting him from the brutality of Mother Nature as we breakfasted one recent morning. To my horror, I watched through the window as a blue jay attacked a rather large crow. Upon closer inspection the small ball of fluff in the crow’s beak could be seen struggling frantically.

“Don’t look!” I cried to my son as he took the last bite of muffin.

This anxious entreaty served only to draw both of the boys’ attentions to the commotion in the back yard. My husband even came running in from the office to see what was the matter.

I was thoroughly traumatized. I had never witnessed such a terrible illustration of that lovely Disney song “Circle of Life”. The image is still with me, silly as that seems.


It touches us all. Perhaps this is most difficult to accept when it strikes those freshly hatched, those newly fledged. As parents, we do the best to attack the crows; trying to guard against the dark spots that taint life. We nurture and teach and pray. Eventually we reach the point where we must let them fly on their own. We must step back and trust in something larger than ourselves to guide these novices of life safely from the nest into the world. It doesn’t always happen that way.

A friend overheard her daughter talking to her siblings the other day.

“I’m nine years old,” the girl said, “That means that in nine more years I’ll be eighteen.”
My friend could not help wondering where the last nine years had gone. And then she wondered what the next nine years would hold before her daughter would fly the nest. The next day, news arrived that two young girls in a neighboring county were killed in an automobile accident.

Suddenly, we are not guaranteed even the next nine years.

A collective cry goes up in the hearts of parents everywhere when one of our young ones is lost. At these times the grief is tangible. Life offers no guarantees.
Yesterday a baby robin fell from its nest in our back yard. My boys and I watched as it hopped around, a cute ball of fuzz still incapable of flight. We tried to put it back into the nest, only to watch it stumble back out. We thought it abandoned, not seeing any caregivers nearby. And so we dug up some worms and took turns feeding the little guy. We giggled at the funny way his head turned into a gaping mouth when food approached.
I watched with dread as the sun sank lower in the sky. I knew he would never survive the night if the temperature dropped too low. I tried to tell the boys that his chances were not good. And then we saw them. Mommy and Daddy robin were busily tending their baby. They took turns feeding him and ushered him into the shelter of a nearby bush.
This morning I stood anxiously at the window, eyes searching the wet morning grass for any sign of life. At first there was nothing. And then I heard it: a plaintive little cry. Sure enough, there were the two parent robins, taking care of breakfast. He had made it through the night!
Sometimes I feel like that mother robin, busily tending to the needs of my young. I usher them into safety, knowing that life offers no guarantees. Any minute, one of the hawks of life could swoop down and change things forever. I’m not sure what the lesson is in all this. Only that we cannot give up on the sanctity of life because of the certainty of death.

And so, just for today I will live in that knowledge. I will hold my children tighter and listen to their nonsensical stories and let love carry me. And tomorrow I will try to do the same. And the next day, and the next. I’ll screw up many times, but I will keep on trying. I will keep on trying because every second counts. Every second counts in this great countdown called life.

My heart is freshly wounded today as I grieve with the Chapman family their loss of Maria. Maria…Cinderella. This song will never hold the same meaning for us again. Oh, how my heart cries for this family. Pray for them, Dear Ones. Let us lift our voices in unison for this grieving family. Let our hearts be one.


  1. says

    Good morning, Laura.
    This is another great post.
    A lesson here for sure is to live each day to the fullest and love deeply.
    I feel such a deep sense of sadness for the Chapman family and especially for the son. I keep praying that God’s grace & mercy will cover him and give him a peace that passeth understanding.
    Thank you for the comment about the little one on my blog. I believe we cry & feel deep pain for others, even those we don’t know, because the Holy Spirit resides in us.
    I’ve read several different blogs where they’ve had children die and it just breaks my heart.
    I remember reading your childhood story and feeling the same way.
    We are able to intercede for others and I feel like when I get “emotional” (for lack of a better word) is when I am truly interceding for another person.
    We can stand in the gap for others.
    It is strange though how we can love so deeply & truly care for someone we’ve never even met.
    You are a sweet & tender mother & you are teaching your children so much about life in the every day situations. God bless you today, my sweet friend!
    Love you,

  2. says

    What a great post! And you built up to the crux of it all so well. We aren’t guaranteed anything except eternal life if we believe and accept God’s wonderful gift. If it all really comes down to that, it truly amazes me that we can let so many days go by without witnessing to our unsaved loved ones. It’s so hard. I do grieve and pray for the Chapman family…and their poor son, what he must be going through. I can’t imagine the horror and guilt. It will be good to see what God brings out of this tragedy.

    Btw, where does one get a Bluebird Box? I want one!

  3. says

    I’ve never heard Cinderella so I went to YouTube just now and listened to SCC do it. Oh my! There is something Stephen knew that the prince didn’t. And I know this little girl was loved well in the short years he was her dad—she’s gone, but he will always be her daddy and hold her in his heart and honor his good sovereign God—whatever that means for him. The guy is so full of faith and may the flame of his faith be fanned by the outpouring of support and love as people give back a little to him for he has given us much. Thanks for a beautiful post!

  4. says

    Another great/ inspirational post! What an awesome reminder to live each day – not just be in it, but truly LIVE in it!
    Thanks! Hope you have great, long weekend!

  5. says

    OH Laura, I am never disappointed when I visit your blog. You and your boys always conjure up my memories. Just the other day I was reminiscing with my 28 year old son about a couple of bald baby birds we found on the sidewalk under an awning when he was 5 years old. He asked me with horror written in his eyes, “What happened here?” I reminded him of the previous night’s storm. “But where was the mommy?” I am not sure is all I could answer. I hoped he didn’t think I would abandon him durnig the storms of life. Hard lessons for our little ones. I too watched in horror last year when a blue jay carried off – one by one the baby cardinals hatched under my kitchen window. We gotta hold on to our own – don’t we – and protect them from whatever would seek to take them from the nest.

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