Mourning lifts as mountaintop birdsong brings heaven to earth

Posted by Lucy Luginbill on October 14, 2013 

When a parent takes their last breath, their voice heard no more, a life song stills. Where once there were melodious moments, now the echo of grief crescendos in the hearts of family left behind.

“Time heals”, others may say. But for the child living inside each of us, mourning resonates for months, even years with the slightest breath of a memory. And like a little one who reaches for a mother or father’s sturdy hand, our very being longs to feel that loving assurance once again.

This story tells of a coincidence that brought solace and hope.

After I lost my mom,” schoolteacher Beth reflects on the unexpected death, “I really missed that connection—calling every morning on the way to work and evenings on the way home.”

Already distraught from the loss of her dad three years earlier, this had been a special time each day, one that cheered both daughter and mother. But life took a turn when her mom was diagnosed with late stage non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Within two weeks she was gone, too.

A depth of sadness clung to Beth like a haunting tune. In her grief, a helping hand reached out to her.

“A friend called and said, ‘Let’s go hike Badger Mountain,’” the petite blonde remembers of that mid-morning on the cusp of spring. “I hadn’t done it in a very long time so we drove out there.”

As the two women walked up the mountain path, the fragrance of sage and a lingering chill in the air, Beth thoughtfully reminisced about how much her dad—a native of Montana—had enjoyed nature.

“We lived along the river in Pasco,” the wife and mother of three comments, recalling her childhood, “and he’d call me out to listen to the meadowlark trill and say, ‘Have you ever heard anything more beautiful?’”

But in recent memory and many hikes on the mountain, Beth pondered how the meadowlark and its song were absent.

“I was remarking that it’d been years since I’d heard a meadowlark,” the avid runner remembers of that day in 2010, “kind of lamenting that it was my dad’s favorite bird.”

And then something coincidental happened.

“I’d just finished saying that, and no more than 10 feet away a meadowlark started to sing,” Beth says with a catch in her voice. “I could see it, and it would pause for a moment and then repeat—singing and singing.”

Then from the surrounding fields and mountainside came a cacophony of meadowlark trills—a concert that lasted for countless minutes.

“It seemed like it was for me,” she says of that rare moment, one neither Beth nor her hiking partner has experienced since. “I took it as a sign that my dad was saying, ‘We’re happy! Don’t worry!’”

Peace and calm connected to her heart in those melodic moments. And like a “small miracle,” the little meadowlark and accompanying “choir” gave this grieving woman a new heart song—one that felt heaven-sent.

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