I was rushing to get to school but of course I had to stop at the drugstore for something I didn’t really need. I could feel dampness in the air just on the edge of being warm typical of the coming of spring. When I stepped out of my car, I noticed beautiful feathers in many shades of brown against the gray asphalt of the parking lot in the middle of Atlanta. The talons were striking, savage art. Looking closer, it was an owl. Perhaps it was a Barred or a Hoot Owl. I was saddened that it lay there dead, its dark eyes still looking alive telling a story. I leaned over and whispered, “Poor thing.” I slowly turned and went into the drugstore.
On my way out, a woman was standing by my car, squatting over the bird. She looked up at me, a white woman with medium brown shoulder-length hair a camel colored winter coat. She picked up the bird, cradling it in one of her small hands as I walked towards her.
She asked in a low pained voice, “Was it here when you drove up?”
I said, “Yes, it was here when I arrived. Dead on the ground. It’s an owl isn’t it?” I could only speak in simple sentences.
Yes, it’s a baby owl,” she responded.
“Oh,” I said, “It looked so small, so lovely there on the ground.”
Looking to me she sighed, “A cat must have gotten it.”
We both stood heads bowed in the lot honoring the passing of the baby owl. Together we acknowledged its existence, its life and early death.
She said as we parted, “I’m going to put him to the side.”
And I responded, “That’s a good idea.”
Two strangers, one black and the other white, united in mourning over a beautiful wild creature. Sadly, the baby owl was dead. Yet we connected over a death that changed both of our lives in just a few short moments. With spring coming, more life is around the corner as part of the inevitable yet sacred cycle of life and death.