“During my mother’s final days in hospice, all my faith and hope had been depleted. I knew God was about to take her to Heaven, so all I could do was plead with Him for one more day, knowing full well it would never be enough. Not wanting to be selfish or see her suffer any longer, I finally folded my hands and whispered, ‘Dear Father, I know it’s time, but please let me know she’s with You.’
“As tears slid down my cheeks, my mother suddenly opened her eyes. Instead of them being clouded and dark with pain, they were clear, alert and sparkling with intense joy. Then they focused right on me.
“‘Pretty bird,’ she said, smiling lovingly. She caressed my face one more time, then she squeezed my hand and took her last breath.
“As I grieved over the following weeks, her last words haunted me. What did she mean, Lord? It doesn’t make sense! She’s never called me pretty bird before, my heart cried.
“On the way home from work one evening, I stopped at the boardwalk near my home and sat on a bench overlooking the ocean. My mom and I used to go there when I was a child and the memories were so bittersweet. I ached for God’s comfort as I placed my searing pain in the palm of His hands.
“Suddenly, a breathtaking bird of glorious colors landed right on the bench only inches away from me. It was not any species I’d ever seen and it sat peering at me with shining eyes. My body tingled as the words pretty bird echoed in my heart. Suddenly, I felt a wave of love, as if my mother was wrapping her arms around me.
“Tears stung my eyes as I finally understood that with God, all love is eternal. And in that instant, the beautiful bird spread its wings and flew off into the heavens.” —Olivia Mitchell, 49, Suffolk, VA