Later in bed, I thought about the nest. Its emptiness and beauty moved me still. Then, I realized why. Because my home is like that nest. I created beautiful space, anticipating my little ones...click Read More
The Empty Nest
In mid-June, a robin built a nest atop an outdoor lamp on my back deck. The nest then sat empty for more than a week. Until one morning, I stepped outside and saw the robin sitting on the nest. That day, she left and returned from morning to night. A few days later, she sat on the nest all day and remained in place throughout the following three days and nights.
On the fourth day, she started taking short breaks. She'd fly to a nearby birch tree and perch on the lower branches. During one of the robin's breaks, I gingerly used a mirror to peer into her nest. I could see the reflection of three perfect blue eggs cradled at the bottom. In the evening, the robin returned to resume her quiet, constant wait on the nestled eggs.
Two mornings later, I stepped out onto the deck and immediately noticed bird droppings and small feathers on the ground. The robin was nowhere to be seen. She wasn’t on her nest nor was she perched on any branches nearby.
As the day went on without the robin’s reappearance, I began to worry. I searched online about robins and their nesting habits. Do robins leave eggs unattended? Could this be normal to have a nest with eggs and no bird? Yes, it could, I learned. Bird experts advise that one should leave a nest with eggs alone as the mother may return two to four weeks later to begin incubation.
That evening, I used the mirror again to carefully check on the eggs. The three perfect eggs remained nestled together.
Encouraged by the bird experts’ advice, I left the nest on the lamp and waited. But I also wondered and worried. Would the robin return? What would happen to the eggs?
In time, this nest with three eggs and no mother and my waiting and worrying began to feel quite personal and poignantly familiar. I’d wanted to be a mother with three children And during the many years I wanted this, I waited and worried.
Hmmm...what stirs my childless grief-related feelings still surprises.
Each morning, I checked for the robin’s return. During the third week, I began to feel strongly that these eggs were not going to bring life. They’d be forever unhatched (...ah yes, dare I write, like my eggs...another stirring...).
For over five weeks, I waited for the robin. She didn't return. So I decided to bury the eggs, return them to nature.
Yesterday evening, I carefully lifted the nest down off the lamp. Looking in, I saw that the eggs were gone. The nest was empty. No broken shells. No sign that eggs had ever sat there.
I placed the nest on a garden stone and felt sad about its emptiness. Then, looking at the delicate yet sturdy creation, I marvelled. The nest was beautiful. A robin had incredibly and intricately woven grasses and twigs together to create this nest for her eggs, to raise her baby birds. And, though the nest was empty, it was beautiful too.
Later in bed, I thought about the nest. Its emptiness and beauty moved me still. Then, I realized why. Because my home is like that nest. I created beautiful space, anticipating my little ones. Because my life feels, like the nest, incredibly woven and beautiful though empty of little ones. Because when we don't have children, it is left to us to fill our lives in other ways.
As beautiful as the empty nest is, I felt that it needed to be full. So this morning, I filled the nest with roses, snapdragons, begonia and sprigs of lavender. A beautiful nest filled with more beauty. Nothing empty about it.
Like the beautiful nest now full, I enrich my home and life with beauty as best I can, with art, music, books, playful dogs, gardens, nature, with the laughter of friends and loved ones, with comfort, lightness, and open windows with views of the morning sun and the night sky, and the sounds of songbirds who return every day.
No more thoughts of empty nests for me.
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