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  • Writer's pictureJerri Lynn Sparks

What I Wish...A Story About Birds And The Moon (and a girl who loves them)

“Do you know what I wish I was?” I asked my son Jared right before we fell asleep the other night. The house was dark and finally quiet after Jared hilariously implored his younger brothers, who were taking turns running up and down the wooden stairs to get snacks, to “Be quiet! I’m trying to sleep!” (The irony is what’s funny because for YEARS this kid kept us all up all night.)

(Photo: Blue Night; photo credit: Jerri Lynn Sparks) He was sleeping over on our now routine of every other Friday night and I try keep him on my schedule to maximize the amount of time we spend together. We have movie night after he’s finished gaming with his brothers and I let him choose which film as a way of entering his world. This weekend we watched “Over The Moon,” a very sweet story about moving on. Then we go to sleep early so we get a jumpstart on Saturday mornings with smoothies and adventures. His room is near the living room but he has nightmares so he prefers that I sleep in the adjoining room on the couch. “Is that the Ghost Of Christmas Past?” he often calls out when the cat clicks on the hardwood floors late at night. After assuring my son that we indeed do not live inside a Charles Dickens’ story, he relaxes. I, however, am on vigilant duty the entire time he’s home, not because he requires this anymore, but because it is a reflex honed many years ago when I had to be “on” 24/7 with him. Some things never fade. It wrecks my back and slays my sleep but I’d do anything for my children. “What?” he asks in response to my question, half asleep.

“I wish I was a bird,” I said, suddenly self-aware that I dream of having the freedom of wings. I was sitting outside on the deck in the sun the other day, thinking, evaluating my life really, when I saw two American Robins take flight, one chasing the other and cackling with glee or possibly mating calls. Still others were doing the same, soaring freely in circles in the soft wind current and playing in the sun, their blue and white colors contrasting with the new Spring green canopy of ages old maple trees, an aerial playground that I cannot touch. It was then that I realized I was jealous of birds.

(Seagull, Ocean City, Maryland, July 16, 2016; Photo credit: Jerri Lynn Sparks) My youngest son came outside to sit with me in that moment and I shared with him that birds have it so lucky with the freedom to fly anywhere anytime they wish. “Maybe the reward for living a good life where you’re moral and care about others, really care and invest in others, is that you get to come back as a bird,” I said, kind of dreamily. My son looked at me and considered this, his hair shining golden brown in the brightness. “Of course, they’re constantly watching out for predators and at any moment someone with a chainsaw could cut down their home but so far there’s an awful lot of trees still left in this world and birds can easily just pick up and rebuild. Can’t say the same for humans,” I continued, pondering my thoughts out loud. My youngest son considered this as well before his girlfriend called and he went off happily chirping with her, leaving me with just my thoughts and the sun. “I wish I had my own apartment,” Jared replied in the darkness, sullenly as he fell asleep. This is his constant refrain, his own apartment being his version of having wings.

(Photo credit: Jerri Lynn Sparks) And there it was, the things we want but cannot have, not yet anyway... The movie was on my mind and the way the young girl dealt with loss, how legends and stories help us make sense out of life. The moon was shining down on us, illuminating the house as much as our hearts, and once again I found myself trying to make sense out of it all and wondering… Who is looking at the moon at this exact same moment? Are they thinking about me? Is it someone out West, maybe Seattle, or maybe across the ocean? And how lucky are we that our universe contains a shimmery moon? And what does the moon have to say about all this chaos? Do birds care about the moon? What do birds care about? They don’t have to go to work or pay bills or have to try to save for their kids’ college. No politicians get to vote and decide their fate. They don’t put on makeup or choose a proper outfit. Their dryer doesn’t die and they don’t need a new garage door. Of course, they don’t drive so… But from my vantage point, an avid birdwatcher, all I see birds do is fly around in the sun, eat some seed or suet, find a nice girl or a nice boy to cuddle up with, pick up some nice straw and string they saw on sale in the neighbor’s yard, maybe catch some fluff flying around from the cottonwood trees, and build a nice little nest, make some nice little babies, feed them a short while and teach them how to avoid hawks and then fly off to a warmer place. It sure seems nice.

(Photo of muralist Sarah C. Rutherford's Rochester, NY mural; Photo credit: Jerri Lynn Sparks) And just when I was about to fall asleep feeling all sorry for myself and all stressed out and kind of sad, Jared said sleepily and softly into the still of the night and into the still of my harried, beaten up heart: “I love you sooooooo much!” Cue the jolt of lightning to my chest. No prompt. Not a response to a question. No context whatsoever. This was just pure sharing of feeling coming from the mouth of a young man who rarely chirps such things. Suddenly, the gears in my heart began moving again and my lights came back on. The words of pure love moved the metronome and my heart began ticking back and forth in unison with his. “I love you, too, honey,” I chirped. “I love you, too.” And as I fell asleep, I mouthed to the moon “And I love you too.”

(Photo credit: Jerri Lynn Sparks) ******* #perspective #resilience #autism #love #SundayMorningOffering

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