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Sings a Song Sounds Like She's Singing

Updated: Jan 9

It was the late afternoon of my first marriage, and my husband was at Lenox Hill Hospital, recovering from emergency surgery for a perforated colon after a protracted bout with IBD. During the surgery, as I'd sat across the waiting room from my in-laws, I'd laughed at a rerun of Friends on TV, then caught myself, ashamed. I was twenty-eight. I'd been an adult for years. But I'd never had to be a grown-up.


I was trying to take a daily two-hour train ride between the hospital and New Jersey, and Aunt Pat, as she did again and again, came to the rescue. She took me in along with the dog, who wedged himself between a wingback chair and its ottoman, under Uncle Ray's knees.


Whenever I left the hospital, I'd walk back to 109th and Riverside Drive with my headphones on. It was a long walk, and I liked to go a different way every time. I don't really believe in God, but I want to believe in something more meaningful than pure random chance, and one of my shining examples happened one evening when I walked past the Lenox Hill Bookstore and saw, in the window, the first novel I'd helped to acquire. The backstory is lumpy and I don't want to tell it here, so you'll just have to take my word for it.


But here, I'll show you this:



This is Stevie. She's a ring-necked dove who came into my life on Sunday. She needed a home with a human who could have her out of the cage a lot. Well, I more or less live in my sunny home office. And somehow, incredibly, Cindy Hammerquist knew that I needed a bird.


Aunt Pat loved animals as much as I do, and I have been so sad that she's no longer here for me to tell her all about Stevie. To the degree that my aunt prayed, it was to Saint Anne, the patron saint of mothers, and Aunt Pat always told me that after she was gone, she'd look out for me--she'd be my Saint Anne. And, okay, I don't really believe in an afterlife, either, but I for sure believe in the powerful force of my aunt, and I'd like to think she had a hand in this.


In Stevie's time here so far, she's hijacked my weekly photo project, instilled respect in Jasper the dog, pooped on my journal, considered setting up shop in the torchiere, and laid two tiny eggs. She likes to land on people's heads, coos while she sits on her nest, turns up her beak at grapefruit, and murmurs contentedly to herself when she perches in my palm and I rub her head with my thumb.


A dove seems extra fitting for right about now, doesn't she?


Stevie meets Aunt Pat.



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