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  • Writer's pictureDavid Sutcliffe


I found a dead bird on my doorstep yesterday.

I ignored it at first — it was a little upsetting — then I wondered if it was a sign. I nervously looked it up. Here’s what Google told me:

"A dead bird does not necessarily mean disappointment or misfortune through loss, while it most likely always means the end of something — and the beginning of something else. Perhaps you have reached the close or end of some term and it’s time for you to prepare for another.”

If you read my last email you’ll know this was exactly the theme.

I’ve always had a hard time letting go. I didn’t know this about myself until a friend noticed it in me. It surprised her; it surprised me. But when she said it I knew it was true. I’d pine over old girlfriends for years. I was prone to nostalgia and sentimentality. And then I thought about how I sucked my thumb with a blanket until my tenth birthday when my mother gently took it away, telling me I was too old for that now. She was right.

I was often afraid as a child. I didn’t know that until I came to terms with my anxiety a few years ago and wondered the source. Clarity came when I saw a picture of myself as an infant lying on my mother’s chest. She was very young and looked scared. I must have been scared too.

I don’t have many memories of my father when I was a boy. They separated when I was six. I can’t recall the moment, only life before and after, so I know it must have been traumatic.

I do remember a violent crash on my bike when I was five. I went head-over-handlebars, sliding across a gravel road. I ran into our house, screaming. My mother was hysterical. Then Dad came in with a Freezie, calmly pressed it against one of my scrapes, before handing it to me with a smile. He told me I was going to have scars now, and scars were cool. Then he showed me some of his scars. 

I didn’t realize how much I missed my father until I was well into my twenties and I suddenly burst into tears in the car after leaving his house one Christmas. 

I don’t like to admit it, but I’m extremely sensitive. I’m afraid I’m going to lose things, lose people. It’s happening now, and I can’t make it stop. In truth, I don’t want it to stop. I know it’s good and right, I know it’s inevitably, I know it’s evolution, but I don’t want to feel the loss.

Maybe we’re all in mourning. Maybe that’s what’s going on. Everyone’s in some stage of grief.

What I do know is the stories we’re telling ourselves aren’t true. They never are. They’re attempts to rationalize our fears and frustrations, to find comfort in reason and understanding. But they’re just stories. 

Who are we if we’re not holding onto anything? What do we have to feel if we let go?

I knew that dead bird meant something the moment I saw it. There is order and meaning in our universe. The signs are everywhere. And if I can let go of the need to control or understand, I can find comfort in mystery, and trust that life — and death — are always leading me home.

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