In the last year of my father’s colorful life, there was a cardinal that watched my father from the biggest tree that we have on our property. You can see this tree from the library in our home in Washington D.C., which is where my father and I would spend time watching TV. I saw the bird a few times myself.
My dad passed away in October of last year. The first time I went down to our farm without him, everything felt normal except dad’s presence was not there. After my first night, I woke up and went into the kitchen/living room in my small cottage and made some coffee. When I looked up, I saw a bright, shouting red feathered cardinal literally standing on the window screen before me. Just like the one that watched over my dad in D.C. Also, this bird was certainly not stationary. In fact, it never was. I had never seen a cardinal fly so freely and chirp so loquaciously. That morning, the cardinal was flying up and down and every way you could possibly think of outside my window, almost as if he was excited to see me or trying to get to me. As time went on, the cardinal would visit me, and sit on the window ledge sometimes not moving at all, as if he was keeping guard.
I didn’t think much of this cardinal visiting my windowsill at the time. However, after multiple visits, I started to realize the unusual behavior of this bird. Flying about. Keeping guard. One morning I woke up and found him staring at me from my window screen in the bedroom. After I got ready for the day, I went down to the kitchen, made my coffee, and there he was again at the windowsill. He had followed me. Just for kicks, I went back into my bedroom to see if the cardinal would follow me and he did. It was then that I started to think, “maybe dad has come back as a cardinal.”
I looked up the symbolism of the cardinal, and the first thing that came up was a picture of the bird with a quote by the Dalai Lama: “Find hope in the darkest days, and focus in the brightest.”