Friday, 3 May 2013

Claire: The Sparrow

The 4th May marks the last of the firsts for our family. The 4th May 2012 was the day we held a funeral for our baby Laura. The day for us started with hopeful thoughts of seeing our little girl once more, and ended with the utter devastation that this was it... this was the last time we would see her, stroke her beautifully silky hair or kiss her soft cheek. The last time we would feel her cold hand or gaze on her pink fingernails with wonder. It was the realisation that she had gone; that she had no life.

The days that followed the funeral were hard. We had family staying at our house, so the three of us (along with Laura’s empty cot that I hadn’t had the heart to dismantle yet), me, my husband and my older daughter Georgia were all sleeping in the same bedroom – our bedroom at the front of our house.

A few days after Laura’s funeral, I walked into the bedroom with a heavy heart and was happily surprised by a little visitor at the bedroom window. Sitting there, looking in at me was a little sparrow. It gazed at me and I gazed at it, but it didn’t fly away. It stayed there for a few minutes and then flew away to a nearby holly bush. The next time I walked into the room, there it was again... the little sparrow just sitting there looking in at me. I called Georgia to take a look and there it stayed looking in at her. My husband came to see the little sparrow and what he said surprised me. Out of the mouth of such a rational, logical, believer in science, he said, “It’s little Laura coming to say hello.”

Over the next few weeks, the sparrow appeared on almost a daily basis. We started to leave robin food out for the little bird and it chirped away and fed only centimetres away from our hands. I began to do a little research about sparrows. It turns out that our little “Laura” was actually a male house sparrow and his arrival at the window was probably his attempt to see off the little bird he saw as a rival (his own reflection in our window). Still, in my research about little sparrows I found the following tale. According to ancient Egyptians, sparrows caught the soul of a recently deceased person.

Following Laura’s death I found it hard to reconcile my previous thoughts about spirituality, luck, karma and the like to the situation we found ourselves in. How could such a cruel thing happen to an innocent little baby? How could such a bad thing happen to me when I strive to be a good person? How could any God allow this to happen? Why? I have become more like my husband in the year since Laura died. I struggle to believe that things happen for a reason. I feel more that the universe is made from chaos. I could not control what happened to Laura, so I have to stop torturing myself with these questions. And yet, despite all this, the little superstition about a little bird touched me. As if by design, the little bird came back to sit in our gutter above the windowsill on 20th April this year, the day that should have been little Laura’s first birthday. I stood and looked at it with my husband and Georgia as we prepared to visit Laura’s grave. If there is such a thing as a soul, and if the little sparrow came to let us know that Laura was still with us, then we would welcome it and smile at each appearance.

June 2013:
I just wanted to add a quick post script...
My mother-in-law died last week quite suddenly although she had a terminal illness. About 20 mins after she was buried I was back at her house preparing tea/coffee etc for the family that were coming back to her house. The front door was open and I went towards it to see if anyone was arriving yet, when I came across a little robin almost at the threshold to her kitchen (it must have hopped in around 3m to get there through the open door). It stopped, cocked it's head, looked at me and then hopped out of the front door again - really warmed my heart :)


  1. This is a beautiful post Claire. I love the idea that our little ones' souls pop in to visit now and again in another guise. It's very comforting. Will be thinking of you tomorrow on the anniversary of Laura's funeral x

  2. A beautiful post. I'm a firm believer in little signs. Love to you x

  3. I too believe in the little signs. About six months after we lost our Kathryn, we took our children hiking. There was a little butterfly that joined us at the beginning of our hike, and stayed with us the entire mile in to the waterfalls, at the falls, and escorted us back out. It was beautiful. Butterflies have since been my special reminder of my beautiful baby. Thank you for linking up with us at for Bereaved Mother's day. xoxo