The late evening sky, streaked with a golden pink, darkened with each passing minute. Sprinklers sprayed lawns; the hum of leaf blowers and weed trimmers filled the air, racing against daylight to finish their Saturday evening chores. On the street, kids played or clustered in groups around streetlights as if waiting for them to glow in the coming twilight.
The amber lamps flickered on, glowing steady. Moths appeared almost as if breathed from the night air. Fireflies waltzed across lawns in weak but whimsical imitation of the nightlights of Fairbury.
The lights flickered. Dimmed. Blackness shrouded the neighborhood as screams pierced the night air.
One little boy. One terrified family. One loving community.
Life changes–sometimes in an instant. For the Cox family, that change comes on a lazy June evening. A raven flies into a power line and falls to its death as a transformer blows. Three-year-old Nathan Cox points to the ground and says, “Look, Daddy!”
Fire consumes a fence and Jon Cox leads his son to safety–or so he thinks. Impending twilight hides a live power line that lies in the shadows of the alley.
Screams rip through the night air and the hearts of Jon and Kelly Cox as Nathan writhes in pain. Jon jerks his son to safety, but not before the damage is done.
The paramedics agree. “He should be dead.” The doctors work through torturous therapies to heal him–therapies little Nathan doesn’t understand. His words rip through the hearts of his parents–his family. “Don’t hurt me, Daddy.”
But through the pain, the fear, the loss of the carefree innocence of a life before trauma, bright moments appear and grow. Strangers from all over the world band together, united in prayer for the healing of one pain-riddled little boy. Strangers all across the country offer help in the way of fundraisers.
And through it all, one community shows the power of uniting together in one purpose. Car washes, bake sales, business donations and discounts, donation cans, and a recycling drive appear one after the other in an effort to help offset the staggering financial burden of nearly a month in a hospital–without insurance.
In one great leap of faith and show of love, a group of musicians gather to present a benefit concert. Businesses offer free fliers, matching donation funds, and volunteer time. People appear from all corners of the town to do their part to ensure that the concert is a rousing success.
One theme runs through the course of each event and surmounts every obstacle. “God’s got this.” And little Nathan? He’s the inspiration that ties it all together. His heart wrenching cries and screams as he tries to walk again unites a community. His goofy smile and loopy comments add hope amid the pain of suffering. Ask him–just ask him what happened. He’ll tell you. “A bird died.”
A Bird Died is the fictionalized account of one little boy’s journey, one family’s tragedy, and one community’s love and support amidst it all.