I was walking through the woods and I noticed her out of the corner of my eye. I snapped some photos using my phone and I memorized her location.


A humming bird sitting on her nest! I was thrilled! I ordered a real camera to take better nature photos. And the next day, I found this.

An egg! The tiniest egg you could ever imagine. A tiny little package of life.

This was the only view I got of the egg. Here’s a little video of the time she was kind of peeved with me for getting too close to her.

After a couple of days she seemed to get used to me. And she sat on that little egg, day after day. I was thrilled to have a chance to see the miracle of life in the nearby woods. Hummingbirds are small and feisty. And this mama, despite the fact that she has the brain the size of a pea, had the instinct to protect her baby. She knew how to fly around to make herself look larger and to make lots of noise. And she also knew when it was time to quell her own instinct to flee and to stay sitting on that egg.

This is a photo I took on a very rainy day. She sat there with the rain dripping on her head from the little twig above her. I thought it was a good metaphor for a mama’s love.


Every day or two, I visited the nest. I had done a little research on hummingbirds and learned that the gestation time would be 16-18 days for the egg to hatch. So, not knowing how recently she had laid her egg when I first found her, I expected to see a chick within a couple of weeks. I kept visiting and started feeling a little impatient because day after day, there was no chick.

Then I went to New Orleans for a few days. John and I walked back into the woods the day after our return.

Still no sign of the chick! It is possible that there was a chick under mama but it had been far longer than 16-18  days! Rip off! Where’s my miracle? Isn’t this a zoo?

Then it happened! A chick, a chick, a chick!!!!!!


I visited the chick a couple of times. I was planning to keep taking photos of the chick’s growth, the increase in feathers, and how little bird get loud and demanding as they await food from mamas who are scurrying around to get food for a baby who grows to her size.

Today, John and I set out for the woods. It was a breathtakingly beautiful Seattle spring day.


Nothing. Empty. That chick was still small and homely two days ago. Sometimes nests are empty because a chick has gotten strong and fledged. But other times, they are eaten by a predator or fall from the nest. This chick, whom I’d affectionately called my “grand baby” and who my Facebook friends had fussed over, is dead.

I had been saving my photos for a post on this blog. This is not the post I had in mind. But life is still a miracle and this Mama did her best, as we all do with our children to help them be strong enough to leave us.

Mothers’ Day is typically a very happy day for me. I have a close relationship with my mother, who is a healthy woman. I have a wonderful daughter. But I know that it is a day of loss for many. For those of you who have lost your mothers, who have lost your children, or who wished for children who were never to be, Mothers’ Day has a much different meaning. And then there are those of us who are mothers who understand that we can’t take our own health for granted. We pray that we will be there for our children as long as we can, especially while they are still chicks in the nest.

Life is full of mixed feelings. I hope that at least one of the feelings you experience tomorrow is serenity. If you are a mom who has lost a child, I know you worked to love and protect your children. If you are a daughter who has lost a mother, I know you brought moments of great joy into your mother’s life just by being her child. If you wanted children but it was not meant to be, think of all of the children to whom you have mattered by being a nurturing presence.