Conversation with a Cardinal

I was very lucky to be with my sister in her last days on earth. It happened so fast: She was diagnosed with leukemia just days before she was told that she may have only hours to live. Her organs were shutting down one by one. I dropped everything and drove to be with her, not knowing whether I’d make it in time. We managed to get her home and settled into the hospice bed at about two in the morning. My nieces and I sat up with her that night, and when the sun came up, we heard a bird singing a loud and beautiful song.

It was a male cardinal, bright red, sitting on a power line outside the French doors, visible from my sister’s bed. We opened the doors so she could hear him singing. She managed to hold on for four days, and during that whole time, that red bird sat on the power line and looked into the window. Even when it rained, the bird sat there. He didn’t leave until she did.

My brother-in-law mentioned an old wives tale his grandmother used to say: When a bird sits outside your window and doesn’t move, it means that someone in the house is about to die, and the bird is waiting to escort the person’s spirit to the other side.

I asked the bird if the wives tale was true. Was he waiting to escort my sister to the other side? He said that my sister’s loved ones who had already crossed over would escort her through the veil. He had been sent by the angels to remind the family of the many spirits and angels who were waiting to welcome her to the other side. He was also keeping watch over the spirits who were coming and going through the portal that was being made ready for my sister’s spirit to ascend.

He told me that he wasn’t a spirit-bird, or even a very special bird. He had been chosen to guard the portal because he had a spiritual bond with my sister. He had always visited with her and sung to her when she worked in her garden. He knew when she was sad, and he sang to comfort her. He had often been a messenger from her husband, who had passed over several years ago.

After my sister passed over, I asked the red bird what he would do now that his angelic errand was complete. “I’m an old bird,” he said. “My time on earth is almost done.” Then he showed me an image of himself: a brilliant red bird on a cold winter’s day, flying free over the rainbow bridge.

I’ve written more about the sacred experience of my sister’s passing on the website forum: I’d love to hear of your experiences with your loved-one’s transition.

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