As the bluebird flies

My friend Karen's family gathered for her daughter's wedding at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City in May 2024.

My friend Karen departed this world a year ago, and I assure you, the world has not been the same since. When those larger than life leave us, a void remains where grief and sorrow reside. Karen, with her unbridled joy, energy, and love, was one of those who seemed capable of defying death. Yet, even such indomitable spirits do not escape death’s sting.

Karen raised three children who adored her and a loving husband who, I am sure, is not accustomed to the quiet surrounding him today. She was the life of every party, and her infectious laughter could make even the gloomiest day bright. Heartbroken was and is an understatement when such a life force flies away.

While Karen’s physical presence may be absent, her love endures. She returns from time to time, reminding us that her life extends beyond our human perception. In her unique manner, she has found a way to transcend her current abode, assuring us that she will not miss any significant event and will always remain nearby.

Shortly after Karen’s memorial service last June, I advised her now-grown children to look for signs or signals in the days ahead, indications that their mother was still with them. These signs, often referred to as ‘God-winks,’ are direct messages from God, assuring us of His watchful presence. They alleviate our suffering, reminding us that death is only final on Earth, but life is eternal with Him.

I feel sorrow for those who have not experienced such small miracles because there is no better event than having God throw us a quick view of forever. Perhaps it is a lack of trust or an abundance of bitterness that some overlook the comfort of God’s grace.

Karen West loved blue. Shades of the color surrounded her, from clothes to sofas, cars, and birds. The bluebird, in particular, held a special place in her heart.

Kelsea, Karen’s eldest daughter, resides in Texas with her husband and young boys. A month after Karen’s passing, Kelsea marked her first birthday without her mother. The day felt empty and disquieting.

Karen loved Christmas just as much as I do. In fact, her full name was Merry Karen. For birthdays and Christmas gifts, she selected extraordinary and meaningful presents that were personal to each person. They weren’t necessarily expensive, but they were always unique.

As Kelsea’s birthday neared, her dad asked his other daughter, Molly, to choose something special for Kelsea from him. Molly did so and had it shipped to her sister in Texas. She requested for it to be gift-wrapped by the store but didn’t specify the packaging.

When Kelsea received the gift, the box lid was adorned with a bluebird print. At that moment, Kelsea felt a warm presence, as if her mother was there comforting her.

A few weeks later, one of Kelsea’s friends returned from a vacation in France. Karen not only loved all things blue, but she adored France as well. After studying culinary arts in Paris, Karen made fabulous dishes, which she served on intricately decorated tabletops with accents of blue.

“Kelsea, I brought you a little token from France!” her friend declared when she came for a visit. Kelsea opened the little package and saw lavender wrapped in a sachet decorated with a bluebird. The friend had never heard the stories of Karen’s love of the bluebird, lavender, or France.

On another occasion, a wedding invitation arrived in Kelsea’s mail. When she opened the envelope, she saw a print depicting a branch holding two bluebirds on the outside of the invitation.

Not long ago, Kelsea met a friend at a café and ordered hot tea. When the waiter returned, it was simmering in a porcelain cup beautifully embossed with a bluebird.

You may believe these are all coincidences, but wait…

Kelsea’s sister Molly wore her mother’s wedding dress in May as she walked down the aisle at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City to marry. Just as the crowd began listening to the vows, a bluebird entered the immense cathedral and rested just above the altar. The little bird remained there until the vows were finished, then flew down the center aisle and out the open Cathedral doors, soaring into a bright azure sky.

When grief and sorrow fill a gaping hole in our hearts, God again gives us the means to repair it with faith and love. Karen is undoubtedly alive and well, flying joyfully around heaven with wings in vibrant shades of blue.

“Late at night, when the wind is still, I’ll come flying through the door, and you’ll know what love is for. I am a bluebird, I’m a bluebird….”
Paul McCartney

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Lynn Walker Gendusa is a Georgia author and columnist. Her work is regularly featured in publications through the USA Today Network and nationwide in senior magazines and Guidepost. Lynn’s latest book, “Southern Comfort: Stories of Family, Friendship, Fiery Trials, and Faith,” is available on Amazon. She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.

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