“I know. Move closer to the window, it’s warmer there.”
“The season’s never gotten this cold so early before.”
“I know. Are you warmer now?”
“Some,” she said. He stood there close to her, blocking the chilly wind. It had been a sad nesting season with the lost of all three of their fledglings. Sad for their loss and sadder still for the emptiness she now felt. “Are you feeling stronger today?” his mate asked.
“Yes. Much stronger,” he lied. He was in his fourth season…..too old to survive another winter much less a strenuous migration. “Do you feel the warmth from the window yet?”
“Oh yes, much better now,” she answered. “There is so much light inside and I can see them moving and hear their sounds.”
He shuttered for a moment and then worked his wings to fluff the insulation of his chest down. He was getting weaker. “You must fly now. South to the warm waters,” he said. She kept silent and continued to look into the window. “Soon the snow will be here and then it will be too late. You must fly now.”
“I will stay with you. You have always been my protector and I won’t leave without you.”
“It is my time and you still have another nesting season ahead of you.” He knew she would have no problem finding a mate next spring and then maybe a chance of healthy fledglings. “Go!” At that, he flew off and after awhile, he settled on the limb of a barren oak and perched there for the rest of the day. He did not want to fly back and make sure she was gone, he was too tired.
Three days later, the first snow fell. It was a light snow and the sounds of excited children could be heard throughout the neighborhood. It was overcast and the windy chill was a harbinger of still more snow to come. By evening, all were sheltered warm in their homes awaiting the next snowfall. With the last of his strength, he had found their abandoned nest and collapsed in the familiar comfort of what they had built together. His heart was beating slowly now and the cold was no longer a discomfort. He thought of his mate and the two wondrous seasons they had together….most of their lifetime. In his last moments he felt a gentle commotion. He opened his eyes and saw her in the nest.
“I’ve spent days looking for you. I still want to stay with you.”
“Why?” he quietly asked.
“We have spent most of our life together. It is only right that we finish it together.” She knelt down beside him and gently laid her head on his back.
The snow came later that night and left a frigid blanket that covered everything. Under the snow were two dead sparrows. Both of no real importance to the world. But even in their last moments, these simple creatures knew and experienced what many simply call instinct……the loyalty of love.