FEATHERS IN THE SAND
The phone rang before dawn. I could hear my husband say hello to his brother and then my scream of disbelief. In the early hours of the morning my dear mother-in-law had passed away. She had been in the hospital for the past two months after a fall. Nothing was broken or damaged but we could see that she was not improving. Covid restrictions had finally taken their toll as we had not been able to visit her at home for almost two years. Without the family interactions her dementia had been able take over. Even so her death that morning was unexpected. We went to the hospital to see her for the last time, pick up her small bag of belongings and then, as we did after our daily hospital visits, we went for a walk on the beach nearby to clear our heads and try to recover from the grief.
The beach is normally very clean with only a scattering of shells by the water’s edge. This morning was very different. The sand was covered in seaweed and feathers. Feathers everywhere. All shapes, sizes and most of them white. We had never seen this number of feathers before on any beach, anywhere. Feathers are considered to be a sign of love and protection, and some believe that white feathers in particular mean that someone is watching over you so we were comforted by them.
Grief is such a difficult feeling to overcome, the sadness can engulf you and we grasp at symbols to give us comfort and support. Were the feathers a sign? We don’t know but whatever the reason for all those feathers that day, what we do know is that they gave us strength to get through that day and the very difficult days that followed.