Yesterday morning, started off like any other Sunday. I went downstairs around 8 a.m., started the coffeemaker and puttered outside to retrieve the paper. While the coffee was still brewing, I went to my patio to check on my plants. [I check on them often, amazed that I've kept them alive this long. I'm hardly a green thumb.] It was then I noticed something peculiar-- a tiny, dead bird. It must've fallen from the sky early in the morning, I thought. It didn't appear to have been attacked by a cat or anything else. It just simply (and quietly) fell from the sky and peacefully left this world. A trail of ants had already found it. I contemplated what to do. Do I throw it in the trash? Bury it?I decided on neither of these things. Instead, I swept it up and took it outside. There, out of public view, I laid it down on a soft patch of grass. I returned to the patio, broom in hand, feeling satisfied that I'd respected its tiny life and let nature take its course. It was then that I looked down to see something else: a small, rainbow-colored leaf [pictured above.] Strange, I thought. It's not the time of year for leaves to change color, but the weather had been unseasonably cool the last few days in Southern California. Maybe the trees were getting confused, I told myself. But this was the only colored leaf. We don't get many colored leaves in L.A. I bent down to pick it up and brought it inside.
All of the above occurred Sunday (June 12, 2016) BEFORE I learned of the events in Orlando, early that morning. By the time I'd poured my coffee, I'd become shockingly aware. Like many others, I learned of the horror at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, not from the newspaper in my hand, but from social media. The news so fresh, that it didn't make it by press time of the Los Angeles Times that morning. That morning, newspapers on the West Coast had been printed and deliveries had been made. Sunday morning, like always. Except it wasn't.
People celebrating the weekend and each other, had lost their lives. Countless others had been rushed to emergency rooms, some in the back of police cruisers when the city of Orlando ran out of ambulances.
Somewhere on the West Coast, a tiny bird fell from the sky. A rainbow-colored leaf fluttered onto a patio.
Families and friends had lost loved ones and a pieces of themselves that they'll never recover, no matter how long they grieve. Others would only learn later if their loved ones made it out in time. Many are still waiting... waiting for a complete casualty list to be published so they can file their fingers down the names and hope there's no one they recognize. Knowing that, chances are, they will know someone and even if they don't, their heart will be broken just the same.
Senseless tragedy. No matter how you look at it. Grief so immense that it's impossible to fathom. Most of the time I don't believe in signs or omens or superstitions, but when I think of that tiny bird, that leaf... I know the universe sometimes provides warnings, tiny details that beckon us to take notice of the beauty of our surroundings and the fragility of life.
During routine errands this afternoon, I saw two other images that stick in my mind:
One, was a Caucasian man, mid-thirties, standing in line at the bank. He had a shaved head and his neck and arms were covered in tattoos. Then, I noticed something else. Both of his legs were covered with large tattoos that spelled out the word S-U-R-V-I-V-O-R. The letters were so large, anyone could read them from across the room.
Driving home, I found myself behind an old car, weighed down with the possessions of its occupants. From the rearview mirror hung a large Star Of David. Flying in the breeze and prominently anchored onto the back of the car, was a frayed American Flag. Tattered as it was, I noticed because I hadn't seen an American flag like that on someone's car since 9/11.
No matter your belief system, your religion, your country of origin, your political affiliations or your sexual orientation, we are all SURVIVORS-- each and every day that we wake up. My heart grieves for Orlando and the senseless violence that happens everywhere, around the globe, every single day. The violence we never hear about... the violence that is happening somewhere... right now... as I type this.
There will always be villians and evilness in the world. But may they always be outnumbered by heroes and goodness. Love and kindness. Generosity and forgiveness. Let us remember the heroes. For heroes exist among us. Some of them are in uniform, but the vast majority of them are just like you and I. Dressed in plain clothes, they walk among us, and become heroes on days when they least expect it. Days when they are least prepared for it. Days like Sunday morning. My love to them always.
Tomorrow is not guaranteed to any of us. Life is short. Let's love each other. Please.
©2016 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine
Photo credit: Kendra Liedle