The woodpecker is said to be connected to the heartbeat of Mother Earth herself. Their black and white feathers symbolize seeing the issues and aspects of our lives clearly. Their red head feathers symbolize a new way of looking at things or new wisdom in general.
When you see these birds in nature, or they come to you in a dream, it is fairly simple to assume meaning.
The way it came to me was much different.
My friend and I sat at a coffee shop, killing time as we waited to depart for my surprise bridal shower. We sat peacefully outside as the sun warmed our backs. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something approach quickly, followed by a loud thud. No more than 2 feet away, a woodpecker had flown into the glass widow.
It died instantly.
We stared in disbelief at the bird. Belly up. Wings still spread.
I was shaken and overcome with a feeling of dread.
Simultaneously, we stood up and headed for the car.
All I could think was that this was a bad omen. Was that about me? Is something bad going to happen to me? We tried to come up with positive explanations about “new beginnings” and “creativity”, but nothing would replace the doom that had settled into the pit of my stomach.
Believe what you will, but I feel in my heart that the woodpecker was a warning. After that day, things changed rapidly and irreparably.
Never in a million years would I have imagined this for my life.
I got better as her body began to show signs of disease. I finished my treatment and 1 week later she was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer.
We started out hopeful. We hoped for radical remission. We hoped for time. We believed it until her belly began to fill.
She became distended and weak and I started seeing a cloaked figure lurking nearby. I could not speak of it. I lost my words. I could not tell her what I saw.
I was afraid to be without her.
I was afraid to see her in pain.
I was afraid to watch her wither away.
I hid my fears, and I’m pretty sure she hid hers from me as well.
The storm raged for weeks. I could not see past the black clouds that surrounded me. The wedding was weeks away and I couldn’t force myself to care. Without her, I just couldn’t bring myself to celebrate anything.
Mothers are miraculous beings. They hold within a reserve of strength that allows them to protect their children in the most dire situations.
On the 29th of April, despite weeks in a hospital bed, my mom found that hysterical strength and left the hospital to be with me at my wedding. She and my dad walked me down the aisle like we had always planned. She read a blessing during the ceremony, after being afraid that she would be too weak to do so. She found the strength to laugh and dance and smile.
The stars aligned for one beautiful day. It was a miracle.
My mom passed away 5 days after my wedding. Tomorrow will be 1 week.
Despite the terrible loss, I’m doing ok. I feel relief. She’s no longer in pain.
After the wedding ceremony concluded, my mom told me that she saw a white dove fly up into the sky from behind where we were standing. I didn’t see it, but she thought it was beautiful and it made her smile.
I have not seen any more woodpeckers since the day at the coffee shop. But since her passing, my world has been filled with doves of hope. They are everywhere letting me know that she is close by.
I am grateful that she was with me in my darkest days. I’m grateful for my magical childhood. I’m grateful to have a mother that transcends time and space to give me comfort.
She will be with me, always.
I love you, Mom.