A few days ago, I opened the relationship book I wrote before Eric died. The book is for women who have been married multiple times.
I had completed the book and given it to my editor. She was working on it. Not long after, in December of 2016, her husband’s health took a sudden and unexpected turn for the worse and he passed away.
Around the same time, Eric went to the hospital several times, and finally hospice. He died on March 25, 2017.
Needless to say, my editor and I abandoned all work on the book. We gave ourselves time.
Since then, I never once went to my computer to open it. I just couldn’t do it. I’m not sure why. In fact, I hadn’t opened the document since December 6, 2016.
A couple of days ago, I decided to take a gander at what I had written. Much to my dismay, I didn’t like the introduction or the first chapter. At least, it wasn’t what I would call a “hell, yes” or two enthusiastic thumbs up.
That was was slightly upsetting, mostly because of the work I imagined ahead.
I texted my editor and gave her the bad news. “I finally looked at the book I’ve written and so far, I don’t like it.”
She texted back, “Oh my. I don’t know what to say! Let me know how it goes and what you want to do. But take your time and be gentle with yourself.”
(What a good editor she is. What a wise and wonderful person she is. Such good advice to a panicked author.)
I had finished texting her while out on a mountain road walking my 12 lb wonder dog, Jackson. I tucked my phone back in my pocket, ready to continue walking.
Looking down at the ground, directly at my feet was a most striking feather. I am not a person who generally comes across feathers, even out here in the forest on a mountain road where there are plenty of birds — and therefore feathers.
It felt like a gift, a message, so I picked it up.
Out came the phone again. One source said feathers are symbols of freedom, inspiration and travel. That felt good and it helped me calm down about my book.
Everything’s gonna be OK, I thought to myself, and the book will surely need some editing and re-writing. That’s natural. After all, look what’s happened since I wrote it. What an amazing experience to realize how much I’ve changed since March 25.
Fast forward with me twelve hours.
That evening, there I am lying in bed reading a good book. I’m engrossed.
Something moved in the upper right corner of my eye, and it wasn’t a “floater.” (No, nothing to do with my aging eyeball!)
Something whisper quiet and the size of a bird was flying — in my bedroom!
It didn’t flap, so I knew it wasn’t a bird…
Oh, gosh, a bat! That’s what it is!
Goodness, another message about flying! Mother Nature has clearly gone out of her way to speak to me today.
I got out of bed and headed into the great room to (hopefully) call Mr. Batman to me. Thankfully, he followed me.
I closed the bedroom door so he wouldn’t go back in. It’s way easier for a trapped bat to fly in the great room where the ceilings reach the sky.
I employed several totally made up bat removal theories involving lights and darkness, windows with no screens, and wide-open doors to the deck.
He was having none of it.
Well alright, then. I can take a hint. I stopped trying.
Instead, I stood in awe of this beautiful flying creature as he silently circled the room in the same perfect pattern. Was he talking to me about something? Was he communicating? What am I supposed to understand here?
My thoughts wandered to Eric. Eric is a night guy. Maybe Eric was saying hello.
Mostly, though, I wondered how in the heck Eric The Bat had gotten into my house. (Where’s that secret, never-before-seen video when you need it most?)
We had had a bat in our house a long time ago and I tried to remember how Eric got him safely out of the house. (My cat Bella brought him in, holding him gently in her mouth. She wanted to show us her new play thing.)
But I was doing other things that day, and didn’t see the “get the bat out of the house” process. Eric handled it.
Since I didn’t know what Eric did, I thought I’d sleep on it. Maybe Eric would remind me while I dozed.
And no, I didn’t worry at all that a bat was flying around in my house. I figured he’d need sleep sooner or later, too, and then he’d fold up those beautiful wings and all would be quiet in my wonderful house.
(And honestly, Mr. Bat seemed quite sweet. He wasn’t scary or weird. I’ve never spent up-close and personal time with a bat and I rather enjoyed it.)
As a Native American animal symbol, the bat is a guide through the darkness. They say bat medicine releases us from our old self and opens the doors for something new and healing. In other systems, bats symbolize death and rebirth. Sometimes, they are known as the “Guardian of the Night.”
Well, chose any or all of that interpretation and it couldn’t be more perfect.
I felt touched that he had visited, reminding me that I’m being guided through the dark. Heaven knows I need a little help with the dark.
In the morning, I woke up with a picture of a ladder and a jar in my mind. I figured Eric couldn’t catch the flying bat, either, or guide him out of the house with a broom, as the internet suggests.
With the help of this mental picture, my best guess was that Eric waited until the bat landed on a low ceiling, got a ladder and put a jar over the bat. The bat fell into the jar and Eric carried him outside.
I did it! Worked like a charm!
Luckily, Mr. Bat was sleeping on a low ceiling where I could reach him — not the great room, thank goodness. Such a partnership!
At the right, you can see the rescue ladder and (barely, barely) the mason jar sitting on top.
Mr. Bat fit perfectly in the jar.
Holding this jar of wings, I thought, “Oh, honey, you’ve been in my house for far too long, let me get you out of here. But thank you for visiting me. And thanks for the message.”
(No, I didn’t make him endure a bat photography session.)
Taking him outside, I carefully poured him onto soft dirt in a tall planter. He wiggled to his feet and flew gracefully away, making a wide turn to the left.
Fast forward another few hours.
Walking my dear Jackson boy later that morning, I was thinking about re-reading my book and how much I’ve changed since Eric’s passing.
Just as I was wondering about that, asking myself exactly how I had changed, there was a ruckus above me — two squirrels leaping from treetop to treetop. They were up there, so high, flying from branch to branch without a net.
Oh, there’s my answer!
Thank you squirrels!
I’ve been leaping. More freely. From treetop to treetop.
I’m more direct in my communication. I’m more aware of my own BS and willing to give it up. The fear of moving forward without my long time friend, Eric, is slowly dissipating. I feel more confident. Freer.
Thank you, Mother Nature, for helping me in so many ways. I never feel alone or confused for long. When I have questions, you dispatch the perfect creatures to drop in, say hello and help me in some way. My heart is very happy about that.
Grazie mille, la mia Mamma! (Thanks a thousand times, my mamma!)