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They Come as Birds

My brother was the first member of my immediate family to die, and the birds showed up the following weekend at the footbridge near Valley River in Eugene. My husband, daughter, and I went to the bridge to toss his favorite flowers, roses, into the Willamette River. As we were dropping the flowers, three honking geese came flying toward us. Two went under the bridge, and the other one flew right over our heads. Little did I know this would be the beginning of my interactions with birds.

Then 22 years later, on the anniversary of his death, a flock of geese flew over our apartment building in Los Angeles reminding us of our ceremony at the footbridge so many years before. Just that morning I had read a passage by Mark Nepo that spoke about “burying and putting to rest” so we can resurrect our lives anew. Holly reacted to these two experiences by saying:

Holly: What a blessing to hear the sound of the geese and to read Nepo’s passage about burying and renewal. Today will be a nice day to take care of yourself and your work. A day to plan, reorganize, and rejuvenate. You are carrying no stress and no pain about your brother’s death. You have more of everything than you will ever need. You are wealthy in so many ways. That abundance is freely shared with others, and it returns to you as an aspect of the circle of life.

The flicker woodpeckers started to arrive in the fall after my brother’s death. First it was just one. I would be thinking about my brother, and the bird would arrive. Prior to this time, we had never seen a flicker in our backyard, but the flicker is not an unusual bird in Eugene, Oregon. After my brother’s death, he seemed to want to get a lot of attention from me. When I had an astrologer over to my house for a reading, she was sitting with her back to the large maple tree in our backyard, and I was facing toward the window. While she was introducing herself and her reading approach to me, the first flicker arrived. I tried not to pay attention to it, but then a second and third one arrived. Within five minutes, there were five flickers dancing around the tree. It became hard for me to ignore, and I had to have her turn toward the window to see the commotion.

My mother was the second family member to die. Shortly after her death, the first ever downy woodpecker appeared on the maple tree. What I loved the most about this bird is that it had a red head. Most of my mother’s adult life, she had dyed her hair red, so this bird was a synchronicity that made me laugh every time I saw it.


By the time my father died, we had already moved back to Los Angeles. Just before he passed away, an oriole landed on our balcony railing. We live in an apartment, and we had never seen a bird like this in our neighborhood. I knew it was probably a sign that my father, who was in hospice care, was close to the death of his human form. I purchased this statue as a reminder of that day.

On April 30, 2019, I saw a dove on our balcony for the first time. At first it just sat there looking in at us. But then the dove started bouncing back and forth on the railing of our balcony. I realized it was a message, but I couldn’t figure out what it was trying to tell me. I suddenly realized that for the first time ever, I had forgotten the anniversary of my brother’s suicide. I was so moved by seeing this dove that I decided to buy a clay mourning dove to keep on our balcony.

June 8, 2019, the mourning dove was on a patio table on our balcony. He sat there for quite a while without moving. We thought he might be ill. I had a feeling that the bird was once again a messenger. I suddenly remembered that my brother’s daughter was getting married that summer, so I googled registries to find the date, and sure enough, she was getting married that same day! Here is what Holly had to say:

Your curiosity and awareness have been rewarded. You are learning to make meaning from symbolism. There is a limit to the way a dove can communicate, so it will be up to you to translate that meaning.

And he comes close to the window so we can enjoy seeing each other.

For the past two years, the dove has returned regularly, and recently he has been bringing another dove with him. One of my favorite photos is of the two doves sitting near the clay dove.

With much appreciation for the beauty and power of love on both sides of the veil. Soul Bridge Coaching and Holly (May 16, 2021)

3 thoughts on “They Come as Birds

  1. These are beautiful interactions you describe and I am made aware of how present we need to be in order to see them and understand them as the gifts they are. I remember you returning to work and telling me about the two geese flying under the bridge and the one above, right after it happened. Over the years when you would occasionally mention your brother’s suicide, that was the image that would always come to mind.


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