Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rare Bird

Jack did not nap until he was 14 months old. That was not fun. But he made up for his crabby, exhausted babyhood with early development in a few areas that amazed and delighted us. For example, he used baby sign language from a ridiculously young age.

Above his changing table was a mobile made of origami cranes. Every time I changed his diaper, I would give the mobile a swing, and the paper cranes would swoop and swirl above his head. Jack made up a sign for “bird” that let me know he wanted to see his birds, or any bird for that matter. It was a little wave of the wrist, hand held high, and he did it OFTEN.

On that same changing table, at 7 or 8 months, he spoke his first word, “bird.” I videotaped it for daddy at work so he would believe me. No worries there, because once Jack started talking, he never stopped. And spelling, and rearranging the letters of the alphabet forward and backward, and sounding things out—like the word “semaphore” in 3-year-old preschool. At the time, I had no idea what a semaphore was. Jack filled me in.

Thus started the circus act of “Mommy and Jack,” as I proudly showed people all the amazing things he could do. He seemed so mature for his age, doing intricate puzzles and mazes, and building things. It wasn’t until later that I realized that while those things came so easily to him, other things didn’t, such as transitioning from one activity to another, handling disappointment, or staying quiet in class.

The realization that my beloved wonder-child was not perfect rocked my world. It helped me to quit being so smug and judgmental of other people’s parenting, to consider that other people struggle in ways we cannot see, and to be more accepting when baby #2 came around with her own distinct personality.

My inward celebration that I had hit the jackpot (the jackpot!!!) with my 2 particular kids never once slackened, but my heart did grow bigger, and I’m thankful to Jack for that. And so grateful that time and perseverance helped Jack grow into himself-- a smart, funny, caring, likeable 12 year old boy who loved God, his family, and his friends.

In those early years, we spent a lot of time bonding with babies and mommies in our home and at the park. This daily time together kept everyone sane. One of those dear mom-friends, in setting out to write our family a sympathy letter, instead wrote us an incredibly beautiful poem, and I’m honored to share it with you here:

Rara Avis
for Jack

“Bird” he signed,
Pudgy fingers fluttering.
We marvel and clap.

“Bird” he spoke,
“Starts with B”. So smart, so young.
We wonder and smile.

”Bird!” he yelled.
Too loud for the classroom rules.
We correct and sigh.

“Bird”, he imagined,
In stories, games, and colored bricks.
We admire and dream.

“Bird”, he joked
With apt and joyful humor.
We recall and laugh.

“Bird!”, he declaimed,
Confident upon the stage.
We bravo and beam.

“Bird” he became.
Why must he fly home so soon?
We call out and grieve.

“Bird” we weep,
“Come back here! You’ve flown too high.
We cannot see you!”

“bird”, he whispers,
“Let my wings enfold your heart.
We will meet again.”

111 comments:

Kirsten said...

Wow. That was beautiful.

cheryl @ nefotlak. said...

* tears *
so beautiful.
xox

Laura said...

:(

Melanie said...

Truly beautiful. Truly.

Jenni C. said...

Wow. That's beautiful.

Annie Boreson said...

A very beautiful poem. After reading your post I went back and read more. Please know that you are all in my thoughts. You write so beautifully and I can only imagine that although it must be incredibly painful to write, it is such an amazing tribute, a testimony to your strength, and deep never-ending love for Jack.

Anonymous said...

Tears... what a beautiful poem. Ada

Jen said...

This poem has me in tears. So beautiful.

Erin said...

Beautiful poem about your beautiful son. Thank you for sharing it with us Anna!
Erin

juli said...

That is probably the most beautiful poem I have ever read. Still thinking of you and your family every day.

Elisa @ What the Vita said...

Wow that's a beautiful, beautiful poem. It is perfect.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Normally, I am not a fan of poetry (call me a literary curmudgeon), but I would like this one even it it weren't for Jack. Since it is?

Perfect.

meghann said...

That is so beautiful. I'm crying… xo

The White Farmhouse said...

Someone is very talented! What a beautiful poem. After hearing your story about Jack this fits perfectly.

Cindy said...

Tears....a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing, and thank you to your friend for her words.

60 toes said...

that is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a special poem.

Meredith Self said...

Wow. What a gift that poem is for all of us. Your post helped me get the poem and see Jack more vividly.

Jack-pot. Priceless word!

Love. Love. Love.

Lisa said...

What a wonderful poem. Gave me tears in my eyes.

Mel said...

No poem has ever touched me the way that this beautiful verse has. So poignantly written.

The Woven Moments said...

What a friend.

What a poem.

What a life!

Debbie said...

A beautiful tribute!

L said...

So beautiful.

Amy said...

So, so beautiful, just like your boy.

Leslie said...

What a wonderful friend, and beautiful poem. Praying that you and Tim are surrounded by people like her, that knew him and loved him, and can laugh and talk with you about him. Thank you for posting this.

Bridget said...

Amazing heartfelt poem, I'm in tears

irv family said...

what an amazing poem...and it so captured him. Feel like I know the little man. My son sounds very much like Jack. Thanks for sharing Jack with all of us. May his wings and the whispers of the day help you find peace. Hugs.

Anonymous said...

Just...perfect.

We miss you, Jack.

MaryBeth said...

Beautiful!

Looking out at my bird feeders smiling.

Steph said...

How unbearably lovely. So glad you have caring friends to support you and honor Jack. Through tears sending you love.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Beautiful poem. I'm in tears. And wishing it was next Friday so I could give you a hug.

luv2run said...

LOVE this story and the poem!!!

luv2run

Anonymous said...

Beautiful.....bird

Susan said...

Dear Anna,
I love the stories you are sharing of the young Jack. I imagine if I were in your shoes ~ my heart would always be there. Remembering. Never forgetting.
He was special. I see that. And damn cute too.

Reenie said...

That is beautiful. xo

Anonymous said...

beautifully written - thank you for sharing. I know this poem will bring you comfort thru the years - what a great tribute and honor to Jack's life... His wings will carry him until you meet again. xo Patty

Leah C said...

To borrow Steph's words..."unbearably lovely". A beautiful poem that makes me smile through my tears. A "rare bird", a precious gift. Hugs & prayers...

ella said...

Thank God for friends, what would we do without them?

What a beautiful, heartfelt poem.

Jennfer Miera said...

ahhh my heart.....beautiful poem.

Vi said...

Such beautiful words! What an amazing gift. Thank you for sharing.

Beth Gourley said...

Such a beautiful poem, written about a beatiful child.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Beautiful words and sentiments for a beautiful boy and family. Thanks for sharing!! Lou

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful poem and a beautiful reminder. While we are here grieving, Jack is wraping his loving arms around your heart, your family. While we can not see him, he is there and will be until the day we know we will all meet again. Sending continued thoughts and prayers for you and your family. May his memory be eternal.

Headless Mom said...

Your friend is quite a talented poet. Thank you for sharing this!

Child of God said...

What a beautiful poem. Sounds like Jack is a very special person.

Continuing to lift you up to our Lord.
<><

LauraC said...

Tears running down my cheeks.

Thank you for sharing, letting us share your pain.

Lou Cinda @ Tattered Hydrangeas said...

Anna, your story and this poem gave me chills....beautiful...

Lou Cinda

Lissa said...

How special and beautiful.

vegan eden said...

speechless....

Debby@Just Breathe said...

The poem is amazing and beautiful.
How deeply he touched people.
((HUGS))

Jennifer said...

Wow. Beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I didn't know what a semaphore was, either. I looked it up, and it comes from Greek words meaning "sign-bearer."

I appreciate this poem even more when I consider that birds have been used traditionally in the arts as the sign-bearer of the Holy Spirit.

Anything that brings peace or joy is of the Holy Spirit. Your friend's kindness must have meant the world to you.

Susan said...

I told myself I wouldn't cry with todays post, but I was wrong. Just beautiful.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful poem. The author must have known Jack well and is also very talented. You are blessed with such a friend. You were, of course, blessed as well with such a special son.

Thank you for sharing these beautiful writings and memories.

-- Joan in PA

lostandforgotten said...

That was a beautiful poem. you are surrounded by so much love.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm crying now ....

Clare said...

That was an incredibly touching and beautiful poem. Still thinking of yall every day.

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

that is beautiful, anna. the story and the poem- both beautiful.you have such a gift and i am glad you can use it to help you express your emotions. i know so many out there are reading your blog, and i am sure so many are relating to your feelings. someone who can put it into words is a great gift to those who cannot find the words on their own.

Lexilooo said...

I'm in tears. That is wonderful.

Bren said...

Truly, amazing, beautiful. The poem, and your amazing beautiful boy have touched my heart so. Prayers and blessings always to you.

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful. He gave you mom-friends!

Emily said...

Wonderful.

Pam said...

Beautiful poem. Beautiful friend.

HeatherV said...

Our 'mom friends' - especially those who have known our kids since infancy - have such a unique window into our children! This poem exemplifies that so beautifully. Lean on these friends.......

Anonymous said...

I love you, Anna. It takes a rare bird to raise one. Suzy

Lisa said...

What a beautiful poem. So touching ...

Erika said...

beautiful...just beautiful! Still praying.

Kara said...

What a beautiful gift that poem is. Just beautiful.

Jolene said...

That is just incredible and beautiful! Soo powerful!

Anonymous said...

What an incredible way to remember him. This is a beautiful gift.

Scary Mommy said...

That was so beautiful. What a gift.

the mama bird diaries said...

What a gorgeous, beautiful poem. Your sweet boy has touched so many.

Julia said...

perfect.

Kristin said...

I love your description of feeling like you hit the jackpot with your kids. I think all parents have that feeling, that we somehow got lucky and got the best one(s). But to have that jackpot taken away... Sending love and strength to you and your family as you find your way through this pain.

Kristin said...

I'm still reading your blog every day, refreshing my browser again and again looking for new posts. You are such a fantastic mom, Anna, and it is so clear in reading about your kids. I am so, so, so sorry for your loss and cannot even imagine what you must be going through -- but please continue to write and share. We're always here and so many of us. xoxo

Anonymous said...

i am always at a loss for words when it comes to commenting on your posts....

beautiful words for a beautiful boy.


holding you all in my heart...

The Empress said...

Yes.

Till me meet again.

Love to all of you.

L said...

Came back to visit this again before trying to sleep. Love it so much. Love YOU so much!

CoreysGal said...

That poem is absolutely amazing. I have no other words.

Ann Skjei Brumbaugh said...

Anna, my beloved "perfect" oldest child was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this week. Your blog is something I turn to for comfort, wisdom, and guidance. Thank you and again I am so sorry for your loss.

The Carens Clan said...

What a beautiful & thoughtful poem.
Continuing to pray for you.....
Mandy

A Speckled Trout said...

How dear this friend must be to have written such a tribute to your son. I hope love continues to surround you and your family on this road you never wanted to be on, and may it never fail to tend your broken wings.

Christen said...

That says everything. So beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful.

Cheryl said...

I'm here every day, so glad I found you. xo

Lady Jennie said...

This is beautiful - and that she could express her grief in that way is a gift.

Maura said...

Your friends poem is so beautiful, what a gift! And your explanation of Bird makes it so much more special. Daily prayers still coming your way.

Law Momma said...

That's beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Ann Imig said...

That literally did take my breath away for a moment.

When people are brave and free with their words and their heart they can give such gifts.

kitty said...

What a beautiful poem.

Deb Nies said...

Simply lovely and magical.

anymommy said...

Gorgeous, Anna. Thank god for friends because there is no way to capture it all and hold it alone.

Heidi said...

Anna, we've been moving and I haven't had time to be here. And now, finally, I'm here catching up and taking in your words, your Jack, your heart. How incredible, how beautiful they are.

zcan said...

I cannot stop thinking about this amazing poem. It is so beautiful and touching. xoxo Kathy

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful gift! Thank you for continuing to share your Jack with us. I am learning so much from him, from you. From this day forward I will look at my children's struggles and imperfections as a stepping stone in their journey.
You are truly a wonderful woman and mother Anna, and I look so forward to meeting Jack in heaven.
Kelly xo

Debbie Angelo said...

Beautiful, just perfect.

Patricia said...

What a beautiful gift - thank you for sharing it with all of us. And it's all true, isn't it ? We shall all be with our loved ones again.....

Vodka Mom said...

Anna. I can hardly contain the admiration and respect I feel for you. I DO have some idea of perhaps a tinch of what you're living- and wish I didn't. I admire your ability to share- and I KNOW it. You are healing yourself in ways you might not recognize yet- and you are helping us heal as well.

And while our wounds are not nearly as deep and life altering as yours, please know that we are all sending prayers to the Lord that he hold you close until you are with your darling boy once again.

K A B L O O E Y said...

Thank you for sharing this intimate glimpse into the "early Jack" period. The poem was so much more meaningful to me with this background info. Amazing how much he was able to teach you in such a short time.

Anonymous said...

poetry can cut to the soul and heart so poignantly. I have a rare love for birds. We just installed our bird feeder outside the dining room window to lure the fall birds our way for our viewing pleasure. I will think of Jack when I see the loveliest of birds. I love the little sparrows. sweet, small and unassuming yet God mentions them in the new testament. jack will be the sparrow for me this winter. when I see one I will lift you in prayer.
hugs
Sandie brown

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

What a gift ...this is from the heart of hearts.

Lacey in the City said...

How beautiful. Brought goosebumps to my arms and tears to my eyes.

Stimey said...

This is really beautiful.

Anonymous said...

The poem made me burst into tears. I am sending your friend a giant hug for writing it and giving it you to to share with us.

Your own words about your acceptance of Jack's amazing abilities and his challenges give me pause. My children are very similar to yours. I am learning so much from you.

love,
jbhat

PeachPrenni said...

Beautiful poem. Perfect.

Melissa said...

Absolutely, beautiful.

Cynthia said...

I tear up every time I read it.

Anonymous said...

a beautiful tribute.

Pseudo said...

This made me cry. What a lovely poem and tribute to Jack.

DFNY said...

What a beautiful poem about a beautiful boy...brought me to tears. My 7 yr old son sounds a lot like yours, both the intelligence, joy and challenges. Thank you for sharing your story with us. You and your beautiful family are in our prayers.

Damaris in NY

Kerri said...

Dear Anna,

I saw Glennon's post today and came over to read about your beautiful boy. I want to say that as strange as it might sound having never 'met' Jack, he has added something beautiful to my life today and I thank you for sharing his story with me, with all of us. I am thinking about having children and I have so many fears and of course losing a child is the worst of those worries. You have shown me that all the risks and worries are worth it no matter what happens. That you're child will always be your child no matter what. No one can ever take away the love that you have for each other because love never dies. Your family inspires me and gives me hope. You have no idea what that means to me. I hope one day I can be half the mother you are.

Much love and gratitude,

Kerri x x

Momobug said...

Ohhh what a poem, I cannot wipe my eyes enough....