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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. July's Theme: "Key to Heaven"
Volume 3 Issue 5 ISSN# 1708-3265
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Thoughts, Feelings and a Little Robin Redbreast
by Iris Perrin

The luminous figures on the bedside clock read 3:15 am. It was the early hours of Saturday June 18th and I had woken briefly from a deep sleep, stirred by the sound of a bird outside on the window ledge. It was making a strange sort of noise and I remember thinking I should get up and have a look - but didn't. Instead I snuggled down again, enjoying the comforting warmth of the soft, flannelette sheets and my slumbering husband. I was almost asleep when I heard the bird on the window ledge again. For a second time I thought I should go and look but resisted, letting my thoughts instead be overtaken by the irresistible urge to drift off to sleep.

Looking back now, I realise the little bird on the window ledge had a message for me that morning, but at the time I would never have imagined it so.

On June 18th, 2005 my Mum died - very suddenly, very unexpectedly. In the early hours of the morning she suffered a stroke and my father had been unable to rouse her. By 11.30pm that night, with my brother and I at the hospital bedside holding her hands, my Mum passed away.

Since then, I have been amazed by the overwhelming power of emotions which arise in me - all of a sudden - triggered by something really simple. I'm just so very glad that I was able to sit with my Mum during her last hours. I've heard about people doing this and often wondered how I could cope with it. In reality I coped fine. We sat with her for almost four hours and although she was not responding at all and her eyes were not really "looking" - I know she was aware that we were with her. I have read that the sense of hearing is the last one to go in this kind of situation, so I kept speaking softly to her - just wanting her to be calm and unstressed. My brother was much more emotional than me - he cried a few times. Surprisingly I didn't feel the need to cry then - I just wanted to try to make sure she was relaxed and calm knowing we were there and we loved her. The strange thing was, although she was not responding in any physical way - every now and then, little tears would trickle down her cheeks - as if she did indeed know we were there, and perhaps - I thought - she was sad about what was happening too.

My Dad wasn't at the bedside with us - he couldn't cope with it. He has a heart condition and was happier to let my brother and I be the ones to comfort Mum in her last hours.

It wasn't until the Monday (Mum died on the Saturday night) when I had to go back to the hospital to get the death certificate that I broke down. Going back into the ward and being just outside the room where we had sat with Mum for such a long time, which now, was empty - was really hard to cope with. After that, the tears flowed often and with huge gulps of heartfelt emotion. One of the most poignant of moments I experienced was when I had to take the pillows and quilt from Mum's bed away from Dad's house. He was finding it upsetting to wake up in the night and see the empty bed beside him - they had twin beds. We completely re-arranged the bedroom for him, replacing the twin beds with a double bed and moving the furniture all around.

I took away the quilt and pillows in the boot of my car. When I got to our house and picked up the bundle to take it round to the back of our house for burning, it just smelt of my Mum. I hadn't noticed it when I put the things into the car, but gathering them all up in my arms put the fabric right next to my face - and the smell of my Mum was just there. The same comforting smell I knew so well from the many, many hugs and cuddles we shared over the years. It was totally, totally overpowering and I was in floods of tears standing there in the back garden. I have watched this kind of scene in films and on television, not really knowing the true feelings and depth of emotion it brings forth. Now I most definitely know.

In years gone by I have watched from a distance as friends and acquaintances have had to deal with a death in the family, and my way of giving emotional support has often been to send a copy of the poem, which reads:

"Don't stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die."

My thought in doing this has always been to try comfort them in some way, by putting a different image in their mind of where their loved one as gone - rather than think of that cold, dark hole in the ground. I often used to wonder why people kept going back to the graveside. One man I knew went to his wife's grave every single day, for many months, lunchtime and when he finished work. Back then, I couldn't understand. Now however, now that it's my own dear Mum who is in the grave - I too want to go and visit. Certainly not every day, but I do want to visit. It is nice to have a place where I can go to remember; a place to put flowers and just be alone with my thoughts.

That poem no longer holds the same meaning for me, and I doubt I will pass it on to anyone again. How true it is that until we experience something ourselves, we really don't fully understand the feelings or emotions it can produce.

Recently, my husband and I bought a new car - the biggest car I have ever driven and to be honest, I'm a bit scared of it. When we got it home, the first drive I took by myself was on the quiet road out to the cemetery. All the way there I was asking my Mum to help me drive this new car and keep me safe in it. I parked directly opposite Mum's gravestone and it was just like so many times before in my life, taking something new to let Mum see. The tears flowed from the bottom of my heart, remembering how pleased she always was to share the excitement of something new with me, and knowing how delighted she would have been to see me drive this shiny new car. I cried all the way home.

I have had some lovely cards and letters from friends, sending care and support from a distance. One message, which came by e-mail, said my Mum is probably with me more now than ever before - she'll be an angel. I had never really thought of that before, but strangely enough, soon after I received that e-mail angels started to appear in my life in a number of ways. Another e-mail from a second friend - who actually did not know my Mum had died - attached a "sparkling" animated angel image, which was so pretty and touched my heart, I printed it and now use it as a bookmark. Later that week, as I was standing in the queue at the post office, I noticed on the counter a box containing lots of little cardboard angels. They were to raise money for the local hospice. Each little angel was wired for hanging on the Christmas tree and had the words "Always in my thoughts" printed across the shape. I put money in the collection box and an angel came home with me in my handbag.

Every month, through the mail, I receive a publication which advertises "body, mind and spirit" type books. The issue which arrived this month featured a new book called "Summoning Angels" by Clair Nahmad and the extract from it described a connection between angels and birds in the garden - something I have not heard of before. My Mum enjoyed the birds. Every day, she would watch them come and go to the little birdhouse outside the front window. Often when I visited to share a lunch break, we would watch them together and marvel at their tiny features.

Mum's enjoyment of the birds was mentioned in the eulogy I wrote for her funeral service. Actually, I wrote most of the words for the service - much to the delight of the Minister who said he has never, ever in all his time of preaching, been given his words before. He read it all beautifully with such feeling and meaning, exactly as I hoped he would. We called it "Celebration of a Life". I persuaded my Dad not to sing the usual mournful hymns "Abide with Me" and "The Lord is my Shepherd" so often used at highland funerals and which always, always make me cry. I wanted to be able to sing that day, so the hymns we sang for Mum were "Love Divine All Loves Excelling" and "All Things Bright and Beautiful" - a fitting tribute to how we remember her. I sang very well - until we reached the part in "All Things Bright and Beautiful" which reads -

"Each little flower that opens,
each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colours,
He made their tiny wings."

Surging, heartfelt emotion took over at that point, as I re-lived in my mind the lunchtime images of Mum and me enjoying the little birds outside her window.

Five emotional months have now passed since that day, and I continue to watch and enjoy the birds in my own garden. Last weekend my husband was away from home on business and for the first time in many months, I found myself alone in the house on a Saturday morning.

I missed my Mum so much that morning. The realization that she just isn't there any more really hit home and I cried huge, gulping sobs from the deepest corner of my heart. For almost three hours I cried until the telephone rang and I had to stir myself to stop the tears. Our telephone sits beside the window in the dining room and as I picked it up, a little robin redbreast thumped against the pane of glass. Obviously dazed from the shock, it came to rest on a bush growing beside the window. It sat there and looked straight in at me, staring with its huge brown eyes for quite a few seconds before flying off again.

I dealt with the phone call and felt a shiver of emotion run down my spine. I knew without doubt that the little robin had been sent to comfort me. I went upstairs to get my "Summoning Angels" book and turning to the chapter on birds in the garden, I found the section about robins which said -

"The robin is the escorter of souls to paradise. It offers itself as guide, bearing before you a light from the angels to quicken the speed of your journeying soul."

I smiled and gave a soft sigh. Like the bird on the bedroom window in the early hours of that fateful June morning, another little bird had just brought me a message - only this time I was wide awake and could fully appreciate the meaning and love that came with it.

A true Scot, Iris lives and works in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband Allen, where in January this year they launched their own business The Ampersand Group.

Having worked as a trainer in the business world since 1992, Iris discovered personal development training in 2003. With a new-found energy to inspire others, she ran her own very successful, motivational workshop during 2004/5.

More recently Iris has completed a training course herself, with California-based Jill Badonsky, creativity coach and author of "The Nine Modern Day Muses". Iris is now delighted to be Jill's very first, official Muse Channeller in Scotland.

"My ongoing aim, is to help others realise new-found confidence and discover their own inner sparkle." Iris Perrin June 2006

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