I recall the hot summer day when I took my three grandchildren to the photographer to have their pictures taken. I remember how silly they were acting. They teased and flirted with the photographer, making funny faces, and doing silly poses to distract him. He joked back at them and made them laugh.
“They sure love life,” he said. “They stole my heart the moment they came into the room.”
Everywhere I took the children they seemed to touch the hearts of everyone they met.
“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy, and celebration. Hummingbirds open our eyes to the wonder of the world and inspire us to open our hearts to loved ones and friends. Like a hummingbird, we aspire to hover and to savor each moment as it passes, embrace all that life has to offer.” -Papyrus
Like the Hummingbird of legend, my own heart had long ago been stolen by Brittany. She was thirteen, and a beautiful, golden-haired girl. Her giggle was a delight to hear. Aaron was ten, with blond curly hair, and an awesome baseball player. He was outgoing, smart and always flirting. Misty was age nine, with long blond curls falling down to her waist. She was creative, friendly, and loved to play soccer.
Our grandchildren and their father, our son, Jimmy, had moved in with Floyd and I, and they have lived in my heart and home ever since. All three loved to watch the hummingbirds in our garden flit from flower to flower. They took turns filling the feeder with the sugar syrup I made for the hummers. Their mother passed away after her long battle with breast cancer.
They had only been with us a couple of weeks. Little did I know that just two weeks later, the pictures the photographer took would be put on their three heart-shaped headstones.
It happened on a hot summer August evening, just a week before school was to start. The children were on their way home after attending an All-Star game with one of their friends. A car coming from the opposite direction crossed over into their lane and hit their car head-on. All five people in the car died, including the driver, my three grandchildren, and their friend. When the officer came to the house to tell us what happened, I could see the tears in his eyes. The officer introduced himself and gave us the terrible news.
“Oh please, God, don’t let this be true,” I prayed.
But it was true—all of them dead, including the young man who was driving in the wrong lane and hit them head-on.
I remembered the night that Floyd, I, and our son Jimmy, sat together in the living room, not knowing what to say, yet surrounding each other with love and strength. I knew that God would be with us during this heartrending time. Jimmy took it hard, losing his three children, and he couldn’t quite recover from the loss.
Ten months later, son Jimmy, then forty-one, was driving his Jeep Cherokee, and towing a trailer. He was going camping. The trailer started to sway, and he lost control of the Jeep. The trailer flipped over. Jimmy broke his neck, and he would remain a quadriplegic for the rest of his life.
Again an officer came to our house and tried to explain how the accident happened. I felt my heart stop, and I gasped, desperate to catch my breath.
“Is he ok?”
My husband took one look at me and put his arms around me. “We need to pray,” he said, “And Jimmy will be all right.”
The recovery and therapy would be long, but I have felt God with us every step of the way. After visiting Jimmy at the rehabilitation center every day, I would visit the children’s graves. They loved sports, so I decorated their heart-shaped gravestones with the things the children loved— a basketball, a baseball, a soccer ball, and little porcelain and plastic angels.
I bought hummingbird feeders and put one in front of each grave. I even made the nectar myself by mixing water and sugar. Hummers were another thing they loved. As I knelt down to say a prayer, the damp coldness of the ground beneath the grass crept into my knees. School would be starting soon, and my grandchildren would not be there.
One beautiful fall morning there was a warm breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. I sat on the bench that was donated to the children by their classmates, and thought about my grandchildren’s short, wonderful lives. As I meditated, a bright, red pickup truck pulled up behind me. An elderly couple got out and walked over to me. The woman looked about seventy, and she had silver hair tied in a bun. She was wearing a brown suit. The man was dressed in a grey suit and tie. He wore a sad smile on his face as they walked towards me.
“Did you see that beautiful cloud behind you?” the woman asked. I turned around to look at the cloud. It was in the shape of an angel. I wanted to thank the couple for making me aware of the cloud, and tell them that I used to call my oldest granddaughter “Angel.” But when I looked back, the couple and the truck were gone. I looked back at the cloud, and my heart was touched with peace and love. I felt God’s presence, and knew that my grandchildren were being taken care of.
Although it was hard to lose my precious grandchildren, I know that if I have faith and trust in Him; He will see me through. Each time I return to the cemetery, as I am refilling the hummingbird feeders, I sense that same inner peace and love. I am sure that I will be reunited with my “Angels” again someday. I know our Heavenly Father cares for each of us, and is with us every day, sending his angels to watch over us all and protect us always.
Teresa Martin has a BA Degree in Early Childhood Education and is pursuing a Master’s in Education. She has written several articles on family issues including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Guideposts. She believes families are the most important that create a connection for children learning traditions, morals and values. She has published two children’s books. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org