My original book title had to be changed six weeks before its release, due to the fact that it was being used by another writer. One of my daughters and I were editing a section of the book concerning a bird my three youngest girls had found intriquing so many years ago. They could only hear its three syllable trill, as it was an illusive nocturnal bird. They called it their 'Theodore' bird because its song sounded like that word. I had caught sight of the fantailed white and brown tail feathers of an unusual bird one day as the sun was setting. My neighbor told me it was a whippoorwill.
Kelly and I decided to listen to bird songs and find pictures of that bird and maybe use it in the title. This bird was a part of our lives and our loss, since it sings a bright lilting tune in spring but a gutteral, sad song of summer's loss. That summer of 1981 as the whippoorwill mourned, so did we. It is said in an old English legend that the whippoorwill helps carry a soul to heaven when someone dies. I found that comforting . . .and so AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG became the new title for the book--and just in time.
In late summer of 2007 as I was barely able to write the heartwrenching end to my memoir, I heard the song of the whippoorwill each night from dusk to midnight. All other birdsong had ceased by then except for some angry cackling by other birds trying to get their young ones settled down for the night. They didn't seem to appreciate the whippoorwills lullaby. I never saw it, except for glimpses of its unmistakable tailfeathers flying away from my house. I had never heard or seen a whippoorwill in the 26 years I lived here and it is not native to my city. It stayed as if to comfort me until I wrote the last two words to my book, 'The End', and was never heard again.
I was recently coming home from work after a gruelling week with tension and illness wearing me down. A low-flying bird flew right past me. I recognized the tailfeathers. "Could that be my whippoorwill?" I thought. It swooped down into my bushes and let me get as close as a foot away from it. I finally got to see the whole body and it was a handsome creature, completely unafraid of me. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said, "Oh yeah, I meant to tell you. It's been here a few days now. It follows me around and sits in the bushes outside my den window."
I felt warm inside, healed in body, mind and spirit. Once again the one I lost had sent me a sign from another realm, telling me, as my publisher always says, "Don't worry-it's all good." I hope it stays with me till summer's end as it reminds me that my loved one is alive and well and watching out for the family.