Matt,  July is always a tough month for me.   Both you and your brother have birthdays, Mike on the 8th, you on the 30th.  You were my Irish twins.  Born one year and twenty days apart.  I have memories of parties before you left that were full of love and joy.  Both you and Mike standing together as we sung happy birthday to you both as you tried to grab a part of the cake and shove it in your brothers face. 

You two always smiling with an arm on each other’s shoulder.  I never thought those birthdays would end.  I never thought you would die.  

I don’t even have pictures of birthdays without the two of you standing side by side.   So trying to get through this month is a daily struggle.  I can feel the grief creeping up and getting closer day by day.  I am training myself to stay in the present and not to think of what’s coming in the future. 

I’m also training myself to look for joy in the daily things of life.  Every morning I start the day with prayers asking for peace and comfort never knowing if God was listening or not.  You remember my love of gardening and how every empty space surrounding the house was full of beauty and multiple blooms of vibrant color.  Year after year my gardens never disappoint.  

Early one morning I decided to brighten my spirits by cutting some flowers to enjoy in the kitchen.  I grabbed my nippers and proceeded to walk into the garden never thinking I was intruding on a miracle.

Mama duck flapped her wings scaring me half to death.  She followed me onto the grass daring me to visit my garden again.  I ran into the garage to avoid her scorn then looked out the bay window watching her return to the spot she appeared from.  

Later that day I mustered the courage to go take a peek trying to solve the mystery that lay waiting in my garden.  What I found was an empty nest with ten perfect eggs.   I was amazed and now enlightened as to why mama chased me away   
I made it a habit of quietly checking on her daily.  Ray set up a camera so we could watch mama from the comfort of our house rather than in person.  

I read up on everything “duck” then started the daily ritual of visiting her giving her bits of lettuce and seeds.  Slowly she began to trust me to get close.  Never chasing me away again.  I watered her on the blazing hot days as she never left the nest.  I talked to her telling her how beautiful she was and what a great job she was doing.  It became my daily dose of joy.  

I was given the gift of watching her babies hatch on your brothers birthday and today I watched as she led them to the pond and introduced them to the water they will spend the next months living in until they are big enough to fly.  

The journey has left my heart a little lighter.  I felt the joy that had eluded my heart for so long.  I now know that God gave me a chance to experience watching life unfold.  My garden has always been full of beauty, now it was full of life.   I will cherish this memory along with memories of you for the rest of my life ❤️🦆