The Crow Eclipse

The crows have been following me for a while now, appearing often, seemingly randomly, but I know better – they are teaching me. Wherever I go, I see them. When I leave on trips, they cross my path in salute. When I take walks, they are there, when I look up they are near. To notice them is learning awareness.

August 2017, heralded a rare event; a total eclipse of the sun. It was poised to slice a path across the United States, coast to coast, west to east. As the eclipse drew closer, I knew something would happen. I just didn’t know what. During the event, I took picture after picture, trying to capture the stillness, the extraordinary feeling and the essence of the event. I would not experience totality, only dreamy semi-surreality. After the eclipse, everything seemed the same outwardly, but there was something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, subtle shift. The crows continued to make themselves known, pecking on my gutters, intently cawing, talking to me in crow-speak.

Then the change started. The call came in late afternoon. “You better come down to the hospital.” my sister said, “It’s serious now.”

“No procedures, I want to die.” you said.

We acquiesced. It’s your choice to have the freedom to say what happens to you after so many years of limited freedom. It must have been a relief. I think of your confinement to a wheelchair and lift chair – dependent on others for any needs not obtainable from sitting in a chair.

“I recommend no hydration,” the doctor said. “Hydration can prolong the death process. She will just have pain control and anti-anxiety medication.” “OK,” we said, new to this particular stage of endings.

Death is neither easy nor pretty. You writhed and grimaced, soaking pillow after pillow with sweat. Your lips cracked with dehydration. They taught us how to dip little green sponges in water and apply to your mouth and lips to provide simple comfort and kindness. I could tell you were in a different land, your face and body in communication with actors I couldn’t see. Family members were hushed and awed as they showed up to pay their last respects, the hospital staff respectful and attentive to our smallest of needs as we braced ourselves for the final ending.

Then the eclipse augury presented itself. You woke up! We were thunderstruck, the doctor astonished – a glow about you like a newborn baby, newly reborn at 90 years of age. The change was mesmerizing. During the death process, you had gone through withdrawal from all the years of countless medications, the deadly pharmaceutical cocktails slowly poisoning you.

We were dazzled by your amazing tale of crossing over and visiting the deceased, your mother and two sisters. We listened in wonderment about the chauffeured car ride you took with them to look at flowers. You asked us to draw the car and where everyone sat.

As you recovered in the hospital, you asked about the person sitting by your side, the person I couldn’t see. “A man” you said. You talked about the two spiders, one black and one red, who lived in the hospital, once aiming and shooting them with an invisible rifle displaying experienced marksmanship. You called them “The Watchers.”

You drifted between worlds. We were dumbfounded and confused. Soon we were so caught up in helping you recover, it was too hard to question everything or anything. It just became “The Miracle.”

Now we have more time to spend with you: the newly restored Mom.

​Meanwhile the crows keep up their vigilant watch, guiding me as before.

-Story in upcoming “Liquid Desert” magazine by randompoetrycards by Barbara Candiotti