Debra Katz – Set Free

Debra Katz

On August 30th, 2007 two things happened that will forever be merged in my heart.

I work in downtown Minneapolis where many of the downtown buildings are inter-connected by “skyways” so that folks don’t have to walk outside in the bitter wind-chill during the winter.

As I was walking into work on Thursday morning, I was just about to walk under the skyway that connects to my building at the 2nd floor. For some reason  I stopped and looked behind me… a few steps back was a small “something” on the sidewalk. I don’t know why I stopped;  maybe some small voice of spirit called out to me to pay attention.   I backed up and took a closer look. 

There on the ground was a small bundle of feathers. It was a hummingbird.  At first I thought it was dead. Its poor little wing was pointing to the sky at an odd angle and its head was at a crooked angle from its body.  It looked to me like it had flown into the skyway windows and broken its neck.

And then it blinked at me.
Hummingbird in Hand
The little bird was so vulnerable lying there. Looking at the odd angle of its neck and wing, I  assumed that it was dying. It did not deserve to die lying on the sidewalk where someone could step on it in a hurried moment of inattention. I could see its little chest heaving fast as it tried to breathe. I could see fear and panic in its small eye looking up at me.

I put my purse and bag down and, ever so gently, scooped up the bird.  It weighed less than an ounce.
Buff Bellied Hummingbird
Our building is surrounded by a large raised concrete area and the outside edges are surrounded by planters filled with daylilies. I thought that I could find a sheltered place for the little bird to lie, sheltered from the sun and up off the pavement.

As soon as I cupped the little bird in my hand it started to revive. Its breathing slowed down.  It even nestled its little body into my hands and adjusted its wings.  I found a nice sheltered place for the bird. When I went to set it down on the concrete under a lily leaf it clung to my finger with one of its tiny feet. 

I adjusted the leaves around the bird so that they didn’t poke it in the eye or block it from flying away if it were later able to fly.  Maybe the poor thing was just stunned.  The longer I watched the bird the more I could see the panic leaving its little body. Its breathing slowed and it no longer heaved its whole body when it took a breath. 

I went back, picked up my purse, and returned to the ledge to see how the bird was doing.  It sat there and looked at me.  No longer the pathetic look in its eyes.  I took one more look and then went into work.

At lunch time I just had to go check on the bird.  Maybe I should take some sugar water down for it. I know that hummingbirds have an extremely fast metabolism and if the bird had a broken wing, it would need some food.  I also thought about which animal rescue squad to call if the bird were injured and not just stunned.

I went outside with worried expectation. Would the hummingbird still be there? I walked up and down the planter looking for the bird. It wasn’t there. I checked all around on the sidewalk below the planter.  Nope, it hadn’t fallen off of the edge.  I also checked to see if it had falled into the planter and was under the plants somewhere. Nope.

I walked back and forth several times making sure that I hadn’t missed the bird.   A miracle.  It must have just been stunned. The poor bird was so vulnerable on the ground, and I could easily have not noticed the bird on the sidewalk.  I felt that this was a small gift between the “universe” and I.
Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird
Later that evening Deb’s mother called me to tell me that she had passed away after her long struggle with cancer.  I’d like to think that Deb sent the little bird to me.  It helps me to see Deb as the miracle injured bird that has flown away.

 Be at peace dear friend, you brought sunshine and laughter to so many lives.  You will be missed.  Thank You for the sending the miracle bird to tell me that you are OK and flying free.

September 13th,

As I walked into work today, when I was a block away from where I found the hummingbird,  I saw a huge dragonfly sitting on the sidewalk.  It was a cold morning, the temps were in the 40s.  I knew that insects are not able to be “active” until the day warms them up and revives them. The dragonfly wasn’t dead… just lethargic and sitting on the sidewalk..  again another little creature sitting vulnerable on the pavement. 

It didn’t move as I neared it, I gently put my fingers under its wings and lifted it up.  It too grabbed my finger with its feet..  I placed it gently in the grass to wait for the day to warm up and for it to awaken and fly away…

Must be me and stunned critters on the sidewalk these days…

Or is it a sign???
Twelve-Spotted Dragonfly



4 Responses to “Debra Katz – Set Free”

  1. Bunny Homa Says:


    What a special tribute to my cousin Deb, a wonderful heartfelt story of healing and surrender. You nurtured the little hummingbird just as Connie nurtured Debbe in the moments before her freedom. Very touching, and beautiful photography. Thanks for sharing it with everyone!


  2. Steve Katz Says:

    My “big” sister Deb passed away a week ago. I always thought it was funny when she introduced me to her friends as her “little” brother. She seemed to really think this was funny as well. Today, however, I have a much different perspective. She may have been small in stature, but she was most definitely very very large in personality.

    Debbie endured several really difficult situations in her life, one being the time we were involved in a school bus accident a block from hebrew school. Our bus was hit broadside in the rear tire which flipped the bus onto its side and spun us around with the bus door downward. I ran from the bus through the rear door and had them call ambulances . I then ran back to the scene of the accident and found my sister lieing in the grass of a neighbor’s yard. She had 2 broken front teeth and was bleeding quite profusely from her head. (I told her she looked like Alfred E. Neuman which is a topic for another time.)

    The second major incident in Debbie’s life was when an airplane she was flying in coming back from an archeological dig in Israel flipped and dropped 40,000 feet in a matter of seconds. They broke the sound barrier in a 737. They were “seconds” from impact when the pilot miraculously regained control of the plane. In spite of both of these incidents, Debbie still went on with her life and persevered,

    Debbie greeted every day with a smile. I rarely saw a time when Debbie did not have a smile on her face. She had an uncanny ability to meet and become close friends with people almost immediately. (Some of them quite famous.) This is why I say, while Debbie may have been small in stature, she certainley she was larger than life.

    I will miss my sister tremendously and could go on and on about my love for her and what a great influence she was, and will continue to be in my life. I will never stop thinking of my sister’s influence in my life and my love for her.

  3. Doug Williams Says:

    Rose: Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful hummingbird story. Like you, I like to believe that the bird was just stunned and was eventually able to fly away. We’ve all had that moment, like the little bird, when we’re knocked down, stunned, unable to move. Then with some necessary help we’re able to move ahead. And sometimes, like you, we’re the person offering the assistance to help others. Give and take, ebb and flow, yin and yang, hello-goodbye.
    I have so many memories of Debbie and most of them make me laugh. As we all know Debbie was a multi-dimensional person. Like many funny, sensitive people she had down times and struggled to get through the day. Like we all do. But no matter how down either one of us was, when we got together we had plenty of laughs. We’d laugh at our troubles. She was funny and funny people are my favorite kind. When a funny person leaves this world, the world is darker for it. But we all have the memory of laughter with Debby. And that makes me smile. I’ll miss her.

  4. meerkitty Says:

    It has been said, that it takes only a minute to recognize someone special, a day to get to know them, and a life time to forget them. That was my experience with Deb. She called me Mom #2 and it was a reflection of how close we felt to each other, although, we saw each other only a few times. What a wonderful thing it is to have a friendship like that in our lives. I will miss her so.
    Mom #2

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