Years ago I went to Costa Rica for vacation and one morning I remember waking up to the trills and warbles of birds just chirping away, and I remember thinking how beautiful it was, what a paradise it was there. My boyfriend and I were staying at a simple but gorgeous bed and breakfast that cost only $17 a night and had an open courtyard in the middle of it, and I imagined all these colorful parakeets and macaws perched on papaya trees, serenading their little hearts out to the world, and I remember thinking, I could live here.
Then a few years ago I remember the same thing happening, except I lived where I live now, in Maryland. One morning I woke up early, maybe around five o’clock, and I heard the choir of birds caroling, and it sounded like a rain forest was right outside my window. I remember thinking that I’d never noticed that before, that I didn’t realize I lived in paradise, right here.
That would have been after I got sober, because I got sober six months after I moved to Maryland. Prior to that, if I was awake at five A.M., I was not a happy camper. I would have been hung over and if I’d noticed any birds singing, I’d have wanted them to shut the hell up while this human tried to get some sleep around here. At least wait until eight or nine, okay? What was there to be happy about? A new day. New day, my ass. I’d wished I hadn’t woken up, ever.
But today I am so glad that I woke up.
I am so grateful to be blessed with the sound of the birds singing their song.
Soon after Mom died I was pretty sure I heard owls hooting every morning and night, and even during the day. That’s Mom, I thought. She’s letting me know she’s with me, because Mom loved owls. Later I figured out they were mourning doves—at least the ones during the day—because owls don’t make daytime calls. I know I heard an Eastern screech owl a few nights after she died, when my sister and I were walking on the trail near Mom’s house in North Carolina, and it sounded ghostly and eerie but somehow comforting. It sounded like the first button on this page.
It doesn’t matter if they were owls or mourning doves, both are significant, and even if they were neither, that doesn’t matter either. What matters is that today I value my life and the world I live in. I miss Mom and I try not to feel guilty for all the times I did not tell her how much I loved her, how much I appreciated her, and what a role model to me she was. But it’s hard sometimes.
Right now I’m so busy with life I only had time to write this because I woke up at five A.M. I am taking a fascinating class on digestion and the gut-brain connection that is full of solutions I want to give my ex-boyfriend, and it’s all I can do not to buy an extra copy of my professor’s book and ship it to him. I am sure he’d benefit from it, because it’s all about problems he has, which I believe are the cause of his depression and anxiety, and I know he’d be willing to try it. It kills me not to send it to him. But he doesn’t want to be my friend anymore because I’m dating other guys (and really by other “guys,” I mean one guy: Jay), and so dinner at Steven’s house is off. It’s so hard for me to understand how he can throw it all away so easily, how he is basically saying that if he can’t have this relationship on his terms, which means me waiting around for him while he doesn’t commit, then he doesn’t want it. It really pisses me off, to be honest. I deserve more than that. Overall I treated him very well, though I hurt his feelings once, and he cannot let that go. It’s still so hard for me to let go, of the relationship, but I’m not changing my mind. I’m not going to stop talking to Jay—who, by the way is an amazing guy with far more advantages over Steven—just so I can have a chance at dinner with Steven who may or may not want to commit to me.
But I am not going to mail him a copy of the book, or email him links to Tara Brach’s podcasts, or send him any other solutions that come my way, because he’s a grown man and he can take care of himself, just like I’m a grown woman and I am taking care of myself. He has his journey and I have mine.
I hope that my mom knows how much I love her, how much she will always mean to me, and I believe she does. I am pretty sure she did. I can hear it in the birds outside singing their song.