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  • Patty Ihm

What Lies Beyond


Bright butter and lavender together blended to nearly a muddy brown, nondescript, until I slowed a bit and let my eyes see what was really there. Each flower is unique to this earth. I could take these wildflowers that grow by the side of the road for weeds, or I could celebrate the fleeting beauty of Queen Anne’s lace in a mason jar on my family’s piano.

“They’re lucky to have you.”

No, really, they are not. To be taken from everything they have ever known; to be transported into the chaotic, confusing rhythm of another, very different family; to eat, sleep, and breathe in an entirely new, unfamiliar circle; to have unthinkable things happen; to be delivered to places and people that they do not know; and to always, always be at the mercy of others…that’s really not lucky.

There isn’t going to be a breakthrough. There won’t be a moment when everything is right.

And it’s very different for my boy, a boy who is no longer so little. It’s different, and he is definitely not lucky.

“I want to go somewhere else.”

And he did, for eight days this time.

The storm clouds had been there the whole time, but I could look the other way to see just an icing swirl of gray atop the majestic splendor of a cloudy, late summer sky. On my drive through the countryside, I passed fields of corn, expanses of wildflowers, and apple orchards almost ready to open their gates. Taking in the season’s turn, I thought that it really was time to put away the hummingbird feeder as I hadn’t seen a visitor in a string of weeks.

“He’s ready to come home. His behaviors have been stable.”

The corn has grown so tall by now, anticipating fall harvest, that from the edge of the farm, I can no longer see anything but clouds and sky beyond the stalks, to know what might be just ahead. I think I like it this way. There is much comfort in not knowing, before our eyes are opened and we have to see.

“You really should plan ahead, just to be safe. We can’t say for sure because we really don’t know. You need more services. You’re going to need help into the future. This is how it’s going to be. He’s probably not going to get better.”

That’s not lucky at all.

I thought of Jenny, who looked almost bewildered as she jumped from her nest box to join a couple of the other hens at the feeder. Her egg had cracked, and it had broken. There would, though, be a new day, another egg, and another hope to hatch a baby chick.

Two hummingbirds visited my feeder that day, the day after I had thought of taking it down. I am glad I hadn’t. Instead, I filled it with fresh sugar water. It’s not too late; our cups need to be filled again and again, no matter how late in the season.

A sparkle of sun shone through the mostly gray clouds, though the rain had not yet passed. We looked for rainbows the whole way home. We didn’t see any, but still we kept looking.

At least he’s home for now. And that’s lucky.

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