…far from representing death, the symbolism of mourning doves gives us optimism with its spirituality.  Beyond their sorrowful song is a message of life, hope, renewal and peace.

– Author unknown,  mourning dove symbolism found in an internet search


I wake up to your struggle for air, a rasping, grasping cough that shakes your being. Outside, I hear the mourning dove’s coo, “This, too, shall pass.” I feel your fear.  I hear your worry.  My thoughts are yours which dare not be spoken least they ring true.  But, my thoughts are not really yours. Attempts to help or comfort form an awkward misstep. We go inside for guidance, and reach the same conclusion.   Call the cardiologist’s nurse navigator.

After months in the hospital and repeated visits to the ER, another medical intervention seems repetitive and boring.  Your call for guidance confirms you need immediate attention to ease your symptoms.

At the ER, we breathe out disappointment and fear when you are admitted to the hospital.    Compassionate doctors and nurses assure us your situation can be managed.  You are still healing and learning how your body works. We learn the balancing act that keeps both your heart and kidneys happy.   This, too, shall pass.

As I leave you in the cardiology wing, I fight back tears as I walk to the ER wing to fetch our car.   I have no bills, so I reach for change to tip the valet.  I grab the first coin.  It’s a US quarter. On its back are herons.  I smile.  This hospital visit is a pause to help you heal.  You don’t believe in signs.  I save the coin  to share stillness with you later.

You respond to medical treatment. Your hospital stay is an overnight.  We go on with life and catch up on delayed errands previously planned.

We pull into our driveway with errands complete.  Our tiquismiquis neighbor is intently focused on culling out the bad grass that moves from our yard to hers.  Upon seeing us, she shouts across the grass and points at the weeping cherry tree bordering our property.  “Have you thought about seeing an arborist to look at that tree?” She approaches and proceeds to detail all that is wrong with our sad little tree.  I hear her well-intentioned instructions for improving our curb appeal.  Behind me you mutter, “We’re not touching that tree.”

While you were healing this spring, I noticed our kyphotic tree did not have the same graceful sway of past years.  It’s top branches bent forlornly naked of leaves and blossoms.  My neighbor’s voice interrupted my wandering mind,  “It would be a shame if it died.”

I sense your irritation. This discussion is boring and repetitive.  I look at our neighbor through the branches of the tree.    There in the center of the cherry tree, where healthy and sickly limbs meet, is a nesting mourning dove.  She is so still and silent.  Her grey, brown markings blend with the trunk to camouflage her stillness through the green leaves.

I mirror stillness and say,  “Marylou, there is a mourning dove nesting in this tree.  No one will touch this tree, now.”   This, too, shall pass.


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