We’d packed up the van and were ready to leave for the airport to take Riley to college. Riley looked up at the bird nest in our garage and wondered when the pair of doves would have their baby. Just then she saw a pair of eyes peeking out from underneath the mother bird. Riley, Ben, Jed, and I hopped up on the edge of the van’s floorboard so we could see better. Mama bird didn’t like us being that close, so she flapped her wings and flew out of the garage. That was when we realized there were two baby birds. When I’d originally found the nest in the garage, there was only one egg. But now little sibling birds nestled side-by-side comfortable in the nest. Mama bird came back, and she and papa bird still take turns minding the nest.
The discovery of two babies was made more special by the fact that we’d just witnessed Riley and her three brothers say goodbye to each other. Honestly, I think Ben and I expected the youngest Alex to be the most upset about her going away to school, so we were better prepared for his tears. We were caught off guard though by the strength of thirteen-year-old Clay’s emotions. His sobbing while he hugged Riley was absolutely gut wrenching. Thankfully, friends took Alex and Clay for fun and a sleepover, so they had distractions awaiting them. During this first part of the goodbye, Jed, our sixteen-year-old son, had remained stoic. I busied myself with some tedious activity in an effort to stop crying myself. When I walked back into the family room, I saw Jed crying as he said his goodbye. That sent us all into a fresh round of tears. As hard as it was for Ben and I to leave Riley a few days later, watching our children bawl because they would miss one another may have been the most heart breaking part.
And yet, even while we were in the throes of those unbelievably difficult moments, I found myself thanking God for the gift of our family. Since having kids, I’ve always dreamed that they would be close. That someday we would be like those families in movies at the holidays when all of the children and their spouses and their kids gather together at their childhood home with mom and dad. When you watch the fighting and name calling and teasing that arises naturally between siblings living together every day, sometimes it’s hard to believe that the wish will come true. But on that day, in those tears, I became confident that their bond is solid and strong. I was full of gratitude for that scene that could’ve come from a movie.
The baby birds are getting bigger and now stretch their necks to watch us from their perch. It’s getting harder for mama and papa to sit on the nest with them inside. We’ve gotten attached to them and will miss them when they grow too big to stay. Just like we miss Riley. But I love that the baby birds have each other to share their early days. I hope and pray my children stick together through thick and thin well beyond their days in our cozy, crazy, beautiful nest.