Guest Post by Diane Odom Cooper

Yesterday I requested “cardinal stories” from readers, since several told me (in response to a post on hope on Tuesday) that they’d had cardinal encounters recently (what’s going on?)  So for the next couple of days, I’ll stick with the cardinal theme.

Here’s a post from a college friend, Diane Cooper.  Let me tell you a little about her first:

Diane Cooper is the mother of four children, including sweet David Cooper, her seventeen-year-old son who died suddenly two years ago from Athlete Sudden Cardiac Arrest while rowing with his crew team at McCallie School in Chattanooga.  

She wrote this about the piece below:

My son David was an identical twin and ALWAYS dressed himself in his favorite color — red — to visually distinguish himself from his brother, Reid. By doing this, he helped people greet him by his name rather than by “Hello Reid or David.” Since David died, cardinals have shown up in my life in a big way — too many significant instances to tell. I’m attaching one of the stories I wrote for a newsletter that I do for bereaved families in Chattanooga. Hope you enjoy it. Those cardinals are cheerful little guys!

Back to School

The beginning of August rolled around this year, and I found myself, once again, face-to-face with School Registration. This has been a difficult day for me the past two years. Our family had some longstanding  “back to school” rituals with our three sons, and the boys, who are twelve to fourteen years older than their baby sister, were so looking forward to sharing the traditions with little Brett when she finally reached school age. David, in particular, talked about this for years, anticipating the time that Brett would begin kindergarten, and he would be launching his senior year of high school on the same day.

I thought back to all the “First Day of School” photos that I have of my three sons – three darling, fresh-faced boys, looking earnest in their new school clothes and their neat haircuts, standing proudly in front of the local coffee shop where we always began our “First Day” traditions with breakfast of waffles and bacon. David was always dressed from head to toe in red – his favorite color and the only way to distinguish him from his very-identical twin brother, Reid, who wore blue.

The past two School Registrations have reminded me of those bittersweet, innocent days, and at the first one after David died, when I went to register Brett for kindergarten, I cried all the way through the registration process — the principal and the school secretary crying right along with me. Last year, for Brett’s first grade Registration, I was just numb, and I rushed through the process as quickly as possible, trying not to make contact with anyone beyond the most basic, necessary exchanges.

This morning, however, I woke and hoped that things would be better this year — after all, I had arranged to work Registration for Brett’s choir teacher, and since David’s death, I find I do better, socially, if I can have a purpose and a reason to reach out to other people. I greeted the morning with slightly over-zealous courage, as I contemplated my intention to have a joyful day.

The warm morning sun was streaming through the bedroom windows as I walked to the back of the master bedroom and into my dark, cool, windowless closet. It’s a big closet, and it’s always very quiet and peaceful in there — a weird thing to say about a closet, but it is. I stepped inside and closed the door behind me and just as I did, I heard a cardinal start calling — loudly. I stopped and thought I must have imagined hearing it, since I was inside a closed closet that has no opening to the outside of the house. Sure enough, from above my head, again that Red Bird called … and called … and called … again and again. A-tweega-tweega-tweega, a-tweega-tweega-tweega. He sounded near enough to touch, and inside my closet, I walked to the spot directly under his song and stood, marveling at our miraculous closeness.

I finally realized that this sweet Red Bird must have been perched on the low, sloping roof, exactly above where my closet lies. His call of greeting and encouragement made me smile, and I thanked my son-who-loved-red and the Designer of this wonderful universe for the “thumbs-up” on my decision to create a joyful Registration Day, and I moved forward and got on with things.

… And it WAS a joyful day.

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~ by Cary on May 6, 2011.

3 Responses to “Guest Post by Diane Odom Cooper”

  1. I needed to get those tear ducts going for the day! Lovely story.

  2. […] via Guest Post by Diane Odom Cooper « Holy Vernacular. […]

  3. […] via Guest Post by Diane Odom Cooper | Holy Vernacular. […]

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