Sandy Beardsley
Living with a Brain Tumor

June 2024
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The Secret Garden
Filed under: General
Posted by: Dan @ 9:43 pm

One year ago today Sandy died. Every day that passes without her by my side is an anniversary as well. But today is different — I had hoped not as painful as her birthday/our first date anniversary July 13 — but these markers of time passing are like… markers of time without her.

I had planned to spend today quietly at home. Sandy must have had a hand in changing the schedule just to keep me occupied and thinking about other things. Most of my days are not scheduled or arranged at all, but today, of all days, I had to go through a court deposition being questioned by a lawyer for three hours (related to when I got hit by a truck while riding my bike), and a couple of other appointments I had no control over, and at the end of the afternoon… I’m firmly dedicated to donating blood every time the Red Cross comes to town every 6 weeks — and of course today was the day. So all that kept me running all day, but tonight the waves are rolling in… but before I go…

I have wanted to share something with you, but I wanted to wait until they were all safe and out of the nest….
You might remember that on the morning of this day a year ago I read the last several chapters of The Secret Garden to Sandy.

Here’s the first paragraph of Chapter 15 almost at the end of the book…
“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles. In the robin’s nest there were Eggs and the robin’s mate sat upon them keeping them warm with her feathery little breast and careful wings. At first she was very nervous and the robin himself was indignantly watchful. Even Dickon did not go near the close-grown corner in those days, but waited until by the quiet working of some mysterious spell he seemed to have conveyed to the soul of the little pair that in the garden there was nothing which was not quite like themselves–nothing which did not understand the wonderfulness of what was happening to them–the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs. If there had been one person in that garden who had not known through all his or her innermost being that if an Egg were taken away or hurt the whole world would whirl round and crash through space and come to an end–if there had been even one who did not feel it and act accordingly there could have been no happiness even in that golden springtime air. But they all knew it and felt it and the robin and his mate knew they knew it…”

Almost a month ago, just before Sandy’s birthday, I was sitting on our front porch step watching the dusk turn to darkness. Usually I would be sitting in the garden behind the house but the neighbors were having a loud party so I went to the front porch where it was quieter. As I sat there in the darkness, feeling sad, I slowly became aware of a bird chirping loudly and insistently from a tree across the road. I recognized it as a Robin call and thought what a strange bird to be chirping so indignantly to the night, because by this time it was almost totally dark. And then all of a sudden the chirping stopped and I heard the bird swoop into the tree right next to me. Then it dawned on me… there must be a nest in this tree.

The next morning I quietly and carefully looked out the bedroom window into the tree. To my amazement, and very close to the window, was a Robin’s nest with four newly hatched birds in it. I could look down into the nest from about four feet away, seeing everything — the parents feeding their young, the baby birds snuggled into the nest. It was beautiful and amazing… and if I had not been sitting on the front porch that night I may never have known about and been able to witness this miracle right outside the window.

Every day I would check on the birds, watching them grow and change. And they became aware of me — both the parents and the young — but they didn’t seem afraid of me. They would stare at me - and at such close quarters it seemed like a real stare - and then resume their feeding or sleeping.

Very quickly it seemed, the young birds grew so large they were almost pushing each other out of the small nest. I was worried I would see one fall out. But soon the young birds were flapping their wings, standing very unsteadily on the edge of the nest and launching themselves off for a first flight. To think that we humans are thrilled, rightly so, to see our children take a first step… but these guys are taking a first FLIGHT. I felt like I was in that nest with them trying to help… but over a few days I watched them take that leap out of the nest (the last one I was worried about because it was about four days after the others had left before he finally decided to go, just a few days ago). But they all appeared to fly away safely…

And now the nest is empty… but I still count my blessings that I was able to be a part of something so beautiful…

Good night,

6 Responses to “The Secret Garden”

  1. Mary (always thelma) Says:
    LAST night I light a candle as I did the main cancer support group, when I came home I put on the bracelet that Sandy had given to me Love Live Laugh. I think I stayed up until about 1 or 2 am getting through the night. but of course also needing my bird nest to be set properly (hint hint) I miss my sister in my heart but my heart will always be filled with love forever because of “Louise” Much love, “Thelma”
  2. Mary (always thelma) Says:
    sorry p.s. Dan I need the phone call answered answered we need to talk about the poster and things and more people are joing the group, and etc. and also on the party…
  3. carolyn hitchman (mom) Says:
    One more beautiful story, Dan, to add to your book. There is so much in the world that is truly incredible and awesome. Your journey is among them.
  4. HAM Says:
    Beautiful robin tale DanO, thank you. Lovely bike ride today at lunch, along the Columbia in Sandy’s name, thanks for being there with our little group of 1st Annual Sandy Beardsley Celebratory Riders(she’s smiling to see us out together with laughter and memories). Love, Heather
  5. Shari Miller Says:
    Dan, I cannot image your grief or loss but am confident that you will get through it & come out stronger because you can still see the blessings of life. After the death of my mother, at age 53, I wondered why & where God was. I came to believe there would be lessons/blessings that God would provide, tho’ perhaps not to me directly. Fourteen years later, I haven’t personally experienced any lessons/blessing from her death (just from her life) but still believe someone, perhaps more than one, has. As for where God was, He was right there, mourning with me, hoping I would turn to Him for comfort. He’s there with you, too, pointing out the miracle of 4 robins in a nest…..
  6. Nomi Pearce Says:
    Dan, So many times I started to write and could not finish. Your words and heart move me to tears every time I check this site. Thank you for continuing to share your life, joy, pain, memories… It was so many years since I saw Sandy and I miss her too. As school begins again, another cycle of moments and memories begins too. Embrace it gently, be kind to yourself, honor the pain and feel life. Nomi Pearce, and old E’burg friend

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