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The Heaven-Sent Hummingbird

A grieving widow finds comfort from the lively hummingbirds in her yard.

Hummingbird from Heaven
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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A blur of movement in the yard caught my eye on a recent evening.

Another hummingbird headed over to my Savannah holly tree. I’d become accustomed to seeing these amazing creatures, but never less surprised by their talent.

Unlike most birds, whose wings flap up and down, a hummingbird’s wings move back and forth—as fast as 80 times per second. So fast their wings become almost invisible to the eye.  The hummingbird is also the only bird that can hover in mid-air, and the only bird that can fly backward. Their wings did things it seemed only the angels in heaven could do.

And to me hummingbirds are heavenly. Seeing them always brings me back to the last night I ever spent with my husband, Jim.

We were enjoying an end-of-summer barbecue at Jim’s brother’s house. Hummingbirds were everywhere, darting around the flowers, circling the table. They had no fear of us humans. “They’re so beautiful up close,” Jim said as one hovered by his cheek, hanging in mid-air as if determined to get his attention. “Brenda and I have tried to attract them in our yard, but in twenty-seven years of marriage we haven’t seen a one!”

“We’re hoping the Savannah holly tree we planted in spring just might do the trick,” I said.

“Well, God is giving us a special show tonight,” Jim’s brother said. “We’ve never seen hummingbirds fly so close to people before.”

Jim and I talked about it all the way home. Those hummingbirds made the night a memorable one.

The image of the tiny birds flitting around in the evening air was still clear in my mind the next morning—until I got a call from one of Jim’s coworkers. There’d been a terrible accident on the job. Jim was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. By the time I got there it was too late. Jim didn’t survive.

The next hours passed with me in tears, trying to comfort family, trying to comfort myself. I’d driven straight from the hospital to my daughter’s. My sister drove in from out of town to meet me there. That evening I told her all about my last night with Jim.

“You can’t imagine how beautiful those hummingbirds were,” I said. “I’ll never forget them as long as I live.” Somehow I got rest. When I woke I knew I wanted the comfort of my own home. My sister promised to follow soon.

Back in my kitchen I poured myself a cup of coffee. Jim is gone, I said to myself. There would be funeral preparations, decisions to be made. Family and friends would offer to help. I would have to learn to live without Jim. But how?

The doorbell rang, and I was glad it interrupted my impossible thought. How God? How do I face the rest of my life without my husband?

My sister was at the door. “I just saw the loveliest hummingbird in your yard,” she said. “I wonder if Jim is giving us a sign that he’s near.”

I believed it was a sign, and a gift from God. And over the following weeks and months the gifts kept coming. Each one made me feel closer to Jim.

By the time I saw my most recent visitor at the Savannah holly tree, I’d read all about hummingbirds and their special talents. But I also knew that the angelic little birds had a talent for healing.

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