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I distinctly remember a moment in time that resides in me the way that “hope” does,  light and airy, like a cloud that walks beside me for companionship. 

One day, while walking around the dirt track at Soledad prison, I heard a loud, unfamiliar noise. It drew my attention to that sit-foot strip of bare earth known as “no-man’s-land” between the inner and outer perimeter fencing. There, I saw a bird lying upon the bare earth while behaving like it was having a seizure. Twenty to thirty of its companions were approximately two feet above the distressed bird. They circled around and around while loudly chirping and flapping their wings as though calling out words of encouragement. Saying, “Come on, come on, you can do it!” But after a few minutes passed, the distressed bird ceased moving and died. It’s hovering companions, supportive when any sign of life is present and immediately recognized when life ceases to be present. They then flew off to resume the business of being a bird. 

Often, I have questioned, “Why was I allowed to view such an intimate act of nature?” It marked me and set me on a path to understanding my mortality and the foolishness of fear. But that is a story for another day. I’m just grateful to have been gifted such a memory for now.

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