She was swimming laps alone in her backyard pool.  The Arizona sun was its usual self against a clear blue sky, which if it were a crayon would be cerulean blue.  She was trying to shake off the events of the last few weeks; the call from her daughter, the notifications, making the arrangements, the funeral.  And then not wanting to leave her firstborn alone, now a widow at age 39.

She had met him during her freshman year of high school.  He was a senior, she a freshman and although the mother knew her daughter liked him she didn’t think much of it.  When she was a freshman in college and he returned from Naval Reserves training they were determined to get married. She was only 18 and her mother thought, who am I to judge true love?

For the first six years their lives seemed perfect. He became a police officer in his hometown and she was studying to be a teacher.  They looked forward to travel and adopting many children.

One day he came home from work, had dinner, sat on the couch and had a seizure.  For the next twelve years his wife was at his side through every hospitalization, every operation, through chemo and radiation. Although she never said the words aloud, she wanted her husband back; she wanted their old life back. She was just glad that God had answered her prayer to keep him alive.  It was good, she said, that his kind of brain tumor didn’t cause him any pain, but it took him in oh so many little ways.

No one else ever took care of him; no hospice enlisted in his care.  Her mother was on her way out of her office when the call came. Her daughter sounded hysterical as she said, “Mom, Doug just jumped into the arms of Jesus. He’s gone.” Her twelve year labor of love was complete.

So as her mother swam laps and prayed for her she heard a shrill cry, like that of a parrot.  She looked up at the neighbor’s large aspen tree, which looked out onto her pool, and she could see a lone green parrot with a peach colored face.  She knew it was a lovebird, one little lost lovebird without its mate, crying out in the Arizona desert.


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