Mourning Dove

Emily sat on the steps of the funeral home kicking up rocks. She didn’t want to be there, her mother never expected her to attend. She did out of love for her mother and to say one last goodbye. She had done everything in her power to keep her mother alive but she was too frail. She made sure her mother took her medicine every few hours, and tried to get her to eat but the past few days she refused. Emily was now left with extreme sadness and guilt that she was having difficulty shaking. Had she done enough, could someone else have taken better care or her, she knew she would never know. 

“Em”, its time to go” her father called to her. Emily hadn’t only lost her mother she was now being relocated several states away. Her parents had divorced when she was two and she had only spent summers with her father. Now she was leaving her home and all of her friends. It was a lot to handle for a fifteen year old.

Emily watched out the window as her life slowly faded behind her. She couldn’t cry for herself, she had been living in a daze since her mother was diagnosed. The doctors never sugar coated her cancer, they told her from the beginning that the disease would kill her. All they could hope to do was to help her with the pain. Six months later, her mother was gone. 

Matthew, Emily’s father pulled up to his apartment. He had never purchased a house because he traveled so much for work that it wasn’t practical. She knew that she was going to live with her father but would probably rarely see him. Emily walked in and headed straight for her room. The one that was previously designated for the summer. 

After sleeping for twelve hours, Emily finally got up out of bed, She walked out the door and onto the balcony of her bedroom and sat in a wooden Adirondack chair. The breeze was chilly for the fall was beginning and she knew the snow would be flying before long. Just as she turned to walk back inside a mourning dove ran into the glass of the patio door. It fell hard and Emily knew it was hurt. The dove tried to fly and kept falling back on the patio. The last thing she wanted to do, Emily thought, was to take care of something else, it would probably die just like her mother did. She started to walk back in and ignore it but something familiar made her turn around. She started swearing and rolling her eyes but picked the little dove up off the pavement and headed back inside.

Emily walked in her room and took one of the boxes and dumped out her clothes and placed the turtle dove inside. She took a comb out of her make-up case and some ribbon that she used to tie her hair back and splinted it on the doves wing. With a little internet search, she determined what kind of bird she was helping. She found out the bird’s diet consisted of seeds instead of insects which she could supply. She also read that this particular bird migrates south for the winter as far as Mexico or South America. Why was it still up north, it should of left late August or at least early September, she thought. Emily realized there was no way she could get the bird healthy enough before the snow fell. 

Without her father aware of her new roommate, Emily continued to take care of her mourning dove. She wondered why they called it a mourning dove and read that the soft coo, some considered crying. For her the soft sound was comforting at night and helped her sleep. She continued to take care of her bird, feeding it and giving it small doses of the medicine the veterinarian she had called recommended while her father continued to go on several business trips. She wasn’t upset with her father and knew his work always took him away but she would have enjoyed spending more time with him.

Emily was thankful that her father had agreed to homeschooling so she would not have to face meeting new people until she was ready. It also gave her more time to take care of her injured friend while continuing to keep up with her studies. 

The dove was good company for Emily especially when her father was out of town. She continued to miss her mother but the guilt of not taking well enough care of her started to decrease. The bird was getting stronger everyday and Emily was able to take the splint off. The dove didn’t attempt to fly away so Emily felt that it needed more time and the winter in New York was brutal . She knew the turtle dove could not continue on its southern flight with the current temperatures. The dove would have to remain there until spring. 

March came and the weather was getting warmer. The meteorologist were convinced that they were going to continue so Emily made the decision to take her bird outside. Camilla, Emily’s mother, had once said to her that (even a mother bird knows when to push her babies out of the nest) and she was now faced with that decision. She loved her bird and had never truly settled on a name. She called it sweetie, little dear heart, and glory. They were all pet names that her mother used to call her. 

Emily picked up her friend and let it perch on her finger. A teardrop ran down her face as she knew it was time to let the bird go. The dove flew. As Emily watched the bird she didn’t expect it to return. She was very shocked when it flew up to her cheek and placed the sweetest kiss. Emily knew it was just a peck but felt like she had been embraced by a full warm soothing hug.

As the mourning dove took flight again, Emily watched it fly away toward a bright light. She strained her eyes to see as the image of the bird transpired into a woman with long blond hair. She recognized her instantly and knew it was her mother.

Camilla continued toward the light for she now knew that her darling morning glory was going to be alright.

October 14, 2020 03:35

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John Carpenter
03:44 Oct 22, 2020

The parallel with the wounded dove and the mother is clear. But the question should be how did Emily change, in that she now knows that she can take care of someone...the dove...and not what Camilla thinks, whoever she is (you never tell us...although I suppose it is mother). Emily should now lift up her head and see a new reality...one where she can help another creature as she could not help Mother. Also, you leave me wondering about the detachment, after so recent a loss, between her and her father, whether she can just be left on her own...


Cheryl Fulks
14:52 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you for reading and your insights. I went back and read the story to see if I had not mentioned Camilla as her mother. I found one small reference to it. I didn’t focus much on her father which may have been beneficial.


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