Our Story

Yes, this is another story about the sayings “ take time to smell the coffee” or “ take time to smell the roses” blah blah blah. What in the world does that really mean? I cut my roses and bring them in the house and I smell them while doing so. I cut the long stems back when needed. Of course I do this while attending to other needed yard projects, but I get the work done. Oh yeah, and I smell the coffee while it brews too.

I get the work done. That is the difference, it becomes work and therefore the pleasure and appreciation of caring for those beautiful roses disappears over time. I understood the meaning of those two sayings but I had never felt the meaning in my heart until my twenty seven year old daughter, Christine, died from a car accident.

My world stopped.  


I soon discovered what I thought I NEEDED to do was far from what was really important. My job had always been extremely stressful and it monopolized most of my time. All of a sudden the job didn’t seem so important. I tried to resume my role at work but quickly realized I couldn’t focus or concentrate on anything except the loss of my daughter, I took a leave of absence. I needed to be home. I needed to be around what felt good, home. I wanted to spend time properly going through her things and giving gifts to her friends made from memories of her. That was what was important to me right now, work could wait, they will survive without me, but I will not survive without me. I needed to find me in the midst of this terrible tragedy. Again, another phrase I never understood and always thought of as a cop out “ I need to find myself”. I now understood.

Quite some time ago a friend was telling me about her husband and his cancer and how they both looked at life so differently now. I told her unfortunately I would probably have to have something awful happen to me to truly understand those sayings and to look at life’s simple pleasures. I was thinking more on the lines of a life threatening disease, not something as horrific as losing a child.

It happens to most of us: We don’t slow down, appreciate life around us or view life with our eyes open. We move through life with our eyes closed until something awful happens to open them.

Our daughter, Christine, had bought us a hummingbird feeder 3 months before her death. She said the hummingbirds were hanging around a colorful wind chime on our deck because they like bright colors. She placed a beautiful rose-colored ceramic hummingbird feeder just outside the kitchen window. I put the nectar in the feeder the day she brought it home and although I enjoyed it when the birds occasionally came around, I never changed the water for three months. I’m sure I was just too busy.

A short time after her death in October we had a hummingbird visit that beautiful rose-colored feeder. I knew right away that bird was Christine. We rarely had them in the summer months and now it was fall. I bought new nectar and vowed to change the water every Sunday. That hummingbird is here everyday several times a day. I realized I was taking notice, real notice, to this fast flying bird. The bird would fly in quickly, eat, flutter around for a while and then fly away. That was the life Christine led. She loved to travel and would take off, stay with friends and then off again. When not traveling she would stop at home on her way to meet a friend. Sometimes she stayed and visited for quite a while then off she would go. Her life was free flowing with no ties or boundaries. Just like this little bird. Pretty, delicate and free to fly anywhere it’s heart desired always knowing where home was.

After paying close attention to this little hummingbird arriving every day, even on snowy days, I decided one cold November morning I needed to fill the squirrel feeder and other bird feeders. The next day I was watching the squirrels and birds and it dawned on me except for the day before, I couldn’t remember the last time I filled those feeders. I am the one who gets excited about buying feeders, because I love watching the animals, but after some point my husband would start keeping the feeders filled. I simply forgot to fill them; I must have been too busy.

Later in the day I sat in the living room thinking about the feeders and it all came very clear to me, I suddenly knew the meaning of take the time to smell and enjoy. I had been awakened inside at that very same time I was dying inside with the loss of my daughter.  We take everything for granted, those birds, the squirrels, the roses and worst of all the people we love so much. They will always be there, how can they not. We try and fill every minute of the day and when we have what we think is down time, we use that down time to complete another task. Heaven for bid we just sit and watch a leaf blow across the yard and see how far it goes. That would be such a waste of valuable time; we’re just too busy. 

No parent should ever bury a child but I have now done so and it hurts deeper than anyone can ever imagine. I can’t help but feel that most people will never know the true inner meaning of those saying until something tragic happens and they stop to absorb their surroundings. Surroundings that always seemed safe and untouchable.

From this tragedy a beautiful hummingbird named Christine taught me to slow down, take in the smallest of the small and value each minute of each day. She valued life to live it her way, she continued to search for who she was in this big world and home was always home to her. She is still flying free as a hummingbird that comes homes to its feeder of fresh nectar. There are now open eyes that will see the hummingbird and all of its friends in the yard. Open eyes that see the beauty of the smallest of small and hopefully will continue to know what is truly important in life.

Oh what a Hummingbird Named Christine has taught me. I love you Baby girl.