I try not to hurry.
At work, it can’t be helped. There are deadlines and patients that need seen and meetings. But when I get home…I do my best to slow.
It has not yet been a week since these feet sunk deep in loose sand along the edge of the world and I am already losing my balance.
I try not to hurry.
In the morning I sit at the glass table and drink my coffee. I see a monarch butterfly drinking from the milkweed in the meadow. The vibrant orange of his wings seem to flutter hope. I feel myself pulled forward.
Lucy Mae needs a walk and I need to walk her and we stand in the back yard quiet. She smells the grass, tastes the tender green. Something moves to the butterfly bush—so quickly that I know it must be a hummingbird. But it’s not. It’s a hummingbird moth and I watch, fascinated by the unfolding of the tongue that dips into narrow flower flute and the hum of wings…so unlike anything.
I’ve never seen one before.
But I know that it has to be. What else could it?
The moth is not afraid of me and it continues to drink nectar, flitting from one flower to the next, reaching with that long proboscis.
I close my eyes and listen to the whir of strange wings. When I open them he is gone.
Back inside, there is laundry and all the stuff of life. I’m back at the glass table trying to breathe when I look out at the bird feeder and see the sparrow. He is stuck—jammed between the square of lard and berries with his head through the suet holder, neck strangely bent and he is still. Too still.
I grab a stick and dig at the suet and I talk to him the whole of the time.
How did you get here? I ask. What in the world were you thinking?
Please don’t be dead.
He doesn’t move when I wrap my hands around his body, cup wings soft and gently pull his head out of the wire—out of danger. My heart is heavy.
I’m afraid to think of what to do with a dead sparrow and doesn’t the Lord know when each one falls?
His body is limp but I see his foot twitch.
I set him on the wooden deck above me and immediately he flies. The relief is so sudden that I cry.
He didn’t even say thank you.
I can’t stop thinking about this one patient—the young one—and his mother and everything about his story. It weighs me down so that moving slow is all I can do. I make a list of everything I need to do and slowly start checking them off—move from one to the next with my proboscis pen checking and rechecking.
The other day, one of my patients told me, Yesterday is history. Today is a mystery. And tomorrow is a gift.
What do you mean? I asked. Explain.
Her ebony skin shined in the sunlight coming through the window.
We can’t change what happened yesterday, she said. And today is not over yet…so anything can happen. And if we live to see tomorrow, what a gift that will be.
I laughed when she said it, but she was right. I think about her as I strain eyes for the sparrow, try to make sure he really is ok. She is unwrapping the gift. She is ok.
I’m trying not to hurry through the mystery of today. If I did I might miss monarch butterflies feasting on milkweed, hummingbird moths in all their glory, and a sparrow in need.
I try not to hurry. But sometimes I do. I grieve what I must miss on those days. What gifts do I overlook?
Will you slow down with me? Tell me what you see. I’d love to hear. Let’s unwrap the gifts together.
This is written for Emily’s Imperfect Prose on Thursdays. Join us?