The Church of the Empty Nest

ruby rose and chicksThe dove family took off from our fire escape the day before yesterday. That morning, Grace and I rushed to the window first thing as had become our ritual. But only Sweet Baby Blue, the late bloomer of the roost, was waiting for us. I suspect he’d been dispatched to say goodbye and thank you, for he perched on the rail with an erect bearing that made him look very grownup. He looked straight at us, and I felt Gracie straighten accordingly in my lap. Then we all froze. Grace’s green gaze, my green gaze, the dove’s dark, bottomless gaze: It suddenly became a big moment.

Thank you for hosting our family, Blue said.
Thank you for your spectacle, Grace said.
Thank you for your trust, I said.

We were all silent a minute longer, and then he flew off. I’ve not seen anyone in his clan since, though their empty nest remains in my basil.

I’d figured I’d be inconsolable upon their departure, and I did cry some. I miss Ruby Rose and Max the Grey; miss their babies Pinky Whitehead and Blue. But I also feel reborn in a way that would be ungrateful to deflect. I’ve had such easy, good times with people this summer, and I feel the doves had a lot to do with that; they were such lovely guests that they inspired me to welcome others.

empty nestI’d forgotten how to be soft around people—forgotten I could reveal my inside self to anyone besides Little Miss. It’s no mistake she loves only me. We’re both vigilant creatures who rarely reveal our underbellies. But something about our dove family ushered us out of our shells. I see it in how I’m inviting people over again; I see it in how she actually comes out from under the bed when they arrive.

Class, color, gender, sexuality, race, religion, species: I respect the stratifications by which we all define themselves. More and more, though, I look beyond them. Kindred spirits come in all shapes and sizes.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy