Sunrise is lonesome these autumnal mornings. Birds now feed on what seed is left in neighboring fields, the chorus of mating and fledgling songbirds gone from our treetops. Why don’t flocks drop in our wildflower meadow for a feast?

And they’ve yet to notice the crabapples hanging from branches above my perennial island. I hope to watch their wings descend when they at last return for their windfall.

Robins, cardinals, and jays seldom visit the backyard birdbath in September. Perhaps they’ve wearied of our cats, Mittens and Cuddles, and losing their young to our predators’ paws.

Mitty and Cuds seem bored to tears, eat and sleep the shorter days away to roam the longer nights like tigers in an African savanna. My husband loses sleep over our prowlers—Mitty gone one way, Cuddles the other.

The neighbors across the road love Mittens, a frequent visitor who helps herself to their cats’ food. “Mittens has the most beautiful blue eyes,” the mother of the house says about our Siamese-tortoise shell mix.

Truly, I worry about losing another mouser on our country road. Yet, Mel and I cannot deny our pets their independence and friends as we couldn’t refuse our children appropriate freedoms.

When young people of our generation, we sang songs like “Baby I Need Your Lovin’” with the Four Tops, and “I Heard It through the Grapevine” with Marvin Gaye. Two of many innocent mating songs Motown Record Company released in the sixties, little did we know how fast they’d fall from fashion in the music industry.

By the time our three fledglings left the nest in the eighties and nineties, love songs like The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” had submitted to music videos, Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” leading the pack.

Enough to make parents of three young women nervous.

Nonetheless, in faith and trust we released our firstborn to college in the fall of 1988 to gain an education and realize her dreams. She returned ten months later addicted to various substances.

In 1996, while our second daughter studied on a different college campus, and the third attended our local university, our firstborn perished from a toxic reaction to alcohol and cocaine.

This long and silent season without birdsong is reminiscent of the years following Becky’s death. For in fall 1997, our middle daughter drove all her earthly belongings to San Francisco to pursue her teaching career. Several years later, our third daughter said she “had to leave this house of pain to thrive.”

One reason why I left my broken home as a young woman.

Dear Reader, obviously, birds behave according to their genome. They’ve no will to exercise. No eternal spirit to nurture. No capacity for compassion. Yet, I am grateful God created them to sing love songs during mating season.

Meanwhile, I anticipate another fall and winter season, listen for the voice of my Comforter in the hour before sunrise. For His love song is everlasting, tender, and trustworthy in this world of pain.

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