One day in December before Christmas in 2002, my friend Chris opened the front door where I had a wreath for the holidays and a tiny sparrow flew into my house. Immediately I thought of this as a harbinger of death. This is something that my Grandma always spoke of when I was little, that when a bird flies into your house or comes to your window it is a sign of death. I did not want to believe it, nor do I believe it to this day, but for some strange reason I have to come to think of it's significance to me now.
It took over three hours to get the bird to fly out a window, he was so tiny and was actually tired and almost came to me to allow me to let him free. Finally he was gone and I didn't want to speak of my Grandmother's old wives tale. I kept saying, "oh it was just a baby" "It must be good luck" ~ but in my heart I felt a feeling of dread.
It was just two weeks after that that I learned of my sister's cancer and it only took six weeks for her to leave the earth. At this time I was not thinking about the bird that flew into the house until I looked up at a floral piece I had between my kitchen and dining room and it was still out of place because the little sparrow was landing there.


As the days went on and months after my sister was gone I found out that her eldest daughter Maddie, then 42, was diagnosed with cancer. We had so much hope that her cancer would be the one that we could successfully treat but as time went on, all the setbacks and chances were not there for her. We struggled through chemo and radiation only to find that she would need to have an experimental treatment done. That day when I went to pick her up to take her for this ten minute infusion of the experimental drug I found that she had a massive stroke.
As the day for the experimental treatment arrived I kept hearing a tapping or a thumping on my window in my computer room. I could not imagine what this noise was, so finally one day I pushed the curtains aside and saw a little sparrow clinging to the small metal that surrounded the window. I do not have windows with sills outside, they are sort of flushed to the house. The bird was pecking at my window, and even though I walked up to the window, thinking it would scare him away, it did not. I kept getting this foreboding feeling once again. I told my husband who really is a believer of these old wives tales and he said "oh don't be silly honey" ... so once again I let it go.
The sparrow kept coming to my window two and three times a day, knocking as if to say he wanted to come in and I tried not to think about it but it was weighing heavily on my mind.


After two weeks of this constant knocking my Maddie's husband called me up to tell me that he was bringing Maddie home to die. My heart was broken but I realized that this is the way it had to be. At that time I was thinking that my Grandma's old wives tale was indeed something to put stock into.
That day I drove to their house and helped him set up for Maddie, I went there each day to help out as much as I could. Each day I walked over to my Maddie and told her I loved her and she said "I love you too." On August 3 Maddie opened her eyes and I told her "It's me, Aunt Fra" and she nodded and smiled at me. I started to say my usual "I love you" but when I said "I" she said "love" and I said "you" ... that was the last words we spoke.
That evening I came home with a heavy heart. I knew that it was time for Maddie to go. That night I could not sleep and heard the bird at my window at 3 a.m. in the morning. I decided to get dressed and ready to go at this ungodly hour. The bird was knocking still. At 6 a.m. I received a call from Maddie's husband. He said "I think our Maddie is leaving us" ~ I was already dressed and quickly left the house. As I was getting into my car a feather flew down in front of the car. I noticed it but I didn't think about it for too long.  I drove 12 miles to Maddie's house and she had just passed. I think as I was speaking to her she was able to hear that final "I love you." The children and her husband and I were standing around her and then we made arrangements for her to leave.


My car was parked in the driveway and I called my friend Chris to come and get the children. When they gathered their belongings to go to my house we walked outside together. Little Donnie went to get something that was stuck to the grate of my car. It was the feather that had fallen from in front of my house. It made it through all those miles to Maddie's house and did not even fall off the grate until her son took it off.


When he handed me the feather it had a new significance for me and it no longer had a foreboding connotation to it. It was Maddie telling me that she was okay and that she had gotten her wings and that now no matter where we were in life she would always be beside me. I will keep that feather next to Maddie's picture and the memory of Maddie will stay in our lives for all the years to come.


Maddie's resting place is in a beautiful cemetery with little alcoves of trees filled with little birds. Although she was buried there this past Saturday I went again Sunday as it is only 10 minutes from my home and there on the tree was this little bird singing a most beautiful song. It filled my heart with love and joy. Maddie left one of her wings for me on this earth to let me know that she is now free from pain and in the arms of her Mother and all those who loved her.


Francine Pucillo

ęCopyright August 9, 2004







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