Daughter sat in the chair next to me and let her troubles tumble out. Out of respect, we will not speak of the troubles. Suffice to say, fifteen is a cruel age.
We were outside, and I was in the total ZONE where you nod and listen attentively, where you know you are doing everything right.
I hummingbird was flitting nearby, back and forth. The wind was blowing, gently. I was a zen master. I turned my head, slightly, and there was the hummingbird, two-feet away from my face. I meaner, faster woman might have reached out and grabbed it.
"Wow! Look at that." But, of course, by that time the hummingbird was long gone. I decided we needed to go a little bit mystic. Pointing to the Hummingbird, now totally across the yard, I said, "My friend Carol would say we should see that hummingbird as a spiritual guide. Native Americans believed that encounters with animals were often symbolic. Maybe that hummingbird is trying to tell us something. We'll look it up later."
The girl was not ready for mysticism. Troubles, troubles, troubles. I babbling brook of troubles.
And then, behind us, the smallest of squeaks. We turned out heads. There, near the dog, was the hummingbird, lying in the grass.
Daughter ran to get me my gardening gloves. I lifted the small thing up. Maybe it just needed a rest! All I needed was to get it somewhere safe, somewhere away from the dog! It's small chest moved so fast, until it slowed and stopped. It was seconds, moments only.
"No, no. I think it's dead."
"Oh great! My spiritual guide is dead! That's the message it has for me. It's dead." The girl stormed off, her voice loud and uneven.
And there I stood, suddenly all alone, with a dead hummingbird in my gloved hands. The zen master no more.