A flash of red trembles the branch outside my study window. It is the cardinal, its orange-red beak clamped with greens intended for its mate, brooding over their nest that is secluded by shadowy leaves from an upper branch. Another shimmering of red lands the cardinal upon the side of the nest, inserting food into the opened beak of its mate, then flaps off, but not for long.

Again, the cardinal alights upon the nest, this time with a black seed in its beak. For five days, such feedings have heartened me, only to become more numerous after their chicks are born. For now, it’s about guarding their eggs from predators and waiting. Whispering breezes gentle this event.

I’m in good company as I also wait in my comfy home, its décor painstakingly assembled like the cardinals’ nest layered with twigs, leaves, grasses, and feathers. I, too, am in vital need of feeding lest I grow weary of my transition and lose heart. My hungers are deep. This morning, Eunice, the hospice chaplain, stopped by and listened, while my helper Tracy prepared a tasty lunch of baked bass and vegetables.

Paradoxically, as I am fed, a corresponding emptiness yawns in my psyche, stretching my purview into the unknown, fraught with the unimaginable. Like plucked violin strings, trust marshals my resolve toward deeper surrender of the inevitable. With this process comes loneliness: alone I was birthed into this existence and alone I will leave.

Like fledglings, I’m all mouth…