When I was in my mid-thirties and realizing after eight years of trying to conceive a child, visiting doctors, adoption agencies, etc, that my husband and I were not going to have children after all, I was very depressed and confused. I also discovered that I had a terrible physical condition that caused a lot of hormonal imbalance, crying, fatigue, menstrual disorders, and probably contributed to my infertility. I don’t want to go into the gory details too much, but suffice it to say, I was quite miserable, and extremely disappointed. Somehow, in my confused little brain, I had had it all figured out that by marrying and having children and providing them with a good home, I would be making up for certain things that had been lacking in my own early life. And I would be helping to make the world a better place.
During this period in my mid-thirties, I began to realize that these expectations and fantasies about the life I was going to create were actually contributing to my disease. I grieved the loss of my dreams (and many other losses that piggy-backed onto it) and began to gird up my loins, and make a firm and clear intention to change the way I saw my life, to change my expectations, to try to find a new way of seeing myself and my life. To heal myself and begin again.
Everywhere I went during this period, I would constantly see a solitary grackle. I must have seen grackles before, but never really noticed them or thought they were quite ordinary birds, perhaps because they are a simple blackbird in general lineament. But upon closer observation, I noticed that they had lovely rainbow colors around their necks, a subtle iridescence within their black feathering, and a most startling, sparkling, vivid amber eye. They made me think of a poem I'd read that included some phrase like, 'to pierce the sour rind' (of life). I could taste that when I looked at the grackle. Making the rounds of various parking-lots in my empty circle of household duties, I would spot a grackle again and again. I began to think of grackles as a kind of ‘totem’ bird in my life.