“How did Nathan die?”

Mom had been sleeping soundly and was awoken by that question asked by her daughter.  Her eyes fluttered open taking a moment to focus on her daughter’s unkempt hair and eyes still full of sleep because she’d just awoken too.

“Good Morning, Sweetheart.  Did you wake from a dream about him?’ the mother asked

“No, I was just looking at a photo album yesterday and there was a story about him so wanted to know how he died,” she answered.

“Oh. I see,” her mother replied.

She paused before continuing because although she’d written about him a lot, thought about him a lot and talked to him daily she didn’t think she’d spoken out loud about him.

“I’m not sure how he died but I know he was only meant to live inside Mommy for a while before becoming an angel,” she finally answered.

“Do you think he had a breathing problem like me and didn’t get a sleep study in time?” she replied.

The Mother smiled because when the girl was small she kept vigil at her bedtime and became highly attuned to the sound a body makes when it stops breathing before then remembering the importance of oxygen.  

“No, sweetheart. I don’t think there were any problems he couldn’t have overcome.  Sometimes when we’re born breathing doesn’t come as naturally as it does for others but with help and time it can come naturally again.  You don’t need help to breathe anymore and right now your breaths are the wings needed on earth.  

Nathan never took a breath without Mommy and God decided when he was born that he didn’t need oxygen anymore but you’re also right because he went to angel sleep study. Like you he doesn’t need help anymore but his wings are in heaven instead of earth,” her Mom explained.

“He’s the oldest, isn’t he?” she continued.

“Yes he is, why do you ask?’ her Mom asked.

“I was just thinking he could help you,” the girl replied.

Tears sprang to the Mother’s eyes.  “He does, sweetheart. He’s with all of the angels and they help us everyday,” she smiled.

Her daughter leaned over to hug her before getting out of bed and getting dressed for the day.  

“I love you, Mom” she whispered.

“I love you, too,” the mother whispered in return.

As her daughter ran out of the room she allowed her tears to flow.  It wasn’t how she expected to begin her Sunday. Mourning. The lessons continue to grow inside of her, live outside of her and die outside of her. She’s always struggled to hold on and let go simultaneously and some days she thinks they mean the same thing.  

Today feels like one of those days.  

She stops crying and places her hand over her stomach then closes her eyes.  She feels the fluttering, the fullness, the excitement and joy.   She opens her eyes and looks out the window. Soon a bird perches itself on the light pole before chirping and flying away.  As she watches with her hand still on her stomach a sense of emptiness overcomes her so she moves her hand to place it over her heart.  

She was born without an axis so every season is distributed throughout her body at once until she is flooded in emotions but she is used to the sensation of drowning and knows where to look for help.  Her cries are the like the messages placed safely within the carrier pigeons bag and when she dreams she is always saved by the arc of love.  

When she is awake she builds.  

May all with wings find joy in their use whether on heaven or earth and may those in the process of developing their wings find the strength to sit in memory during the most painful parts of growth to recall the flutter in order to remind themselves of the joy to be captured in their appointed birth process.

When we are born we feel but do not think