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How Cardinals Helped Me Know My Boys Were Safe While Fighting in Afghanistan


Cardinals often serve as powerful messengers from Heaven, letting us know that we’re watched over and protected, as Woman’s World reader Elaine Strasser of Wesley Chapel, Florida, discovered. She writes:

Throughout my childhood, while on walks or driving, my mother would stop to point out cardinals.

“Look!” she’d exclaim, when the first red flash arrived—almost magically—just as fall gave way to the first frost.

Together, Mom and I would sit at the window, watching the bright birds carry twigs and grass to their nest in the tree. Mom loved cardinals so much that one day she said, “When I die, I want to come back as a cardinal.”

Being a little girl, I gasped, “Mommy, don’t die!”

“Oh, Sweetheart! I don’t plan to, not for a very long time,” she said, hugging me tight.

As she promised, Mom and I enjoyed many more autumns together. When I got married and had children of my own, their “Mommer” taught them about cardinals, too. And through the years, whenever we gave my mother a gift, the boys made sure the wrapping was decorated with Mommer’s favorite red birds!

So it was bittersweet when, at Mom’s funeral, my son Neil nudged me.

“Look, in the tree. There’s Mommer!” he said.

Seeing the cardinal perched so close, I smiled through my tears: You did, it, Mom.

The years passed, and whenever I saw a flash of red in the trees, I thought of Mom. So did my boys.

“There’s Mommer!” they’d say when a cardinal visited one of the birdhouses my son Rob painted. Though we all missed her terribly, it was a comfort to know she was close.

Then Neil and his brother, Tim, were both deployed to Afghanistan. 

Please, let them be safe! I constantly prayed. Then one day, while sitting on my deck, overwhelmed with worry, I saw a cardinal flash by.

Since we’d moved to Florida, I’d never seen a cardinal. Now, my eyes wide, I watched the bird walk along the handrail of the deck beside me. And when I approached it, instead of skittering away, the cardinal looked me directly in the eye and cawed.

This didn’t just happen once: At least a dozen times, I’d come home from work and find that cardinal on the deck waiting. Finally, I had to ask, ”Is it you, Mom? Are you telling me the boys are okay, and you’re watching them?”

To my amazement, the bird cawed as if in response! I know some would have said I was crazy, but I just knew that bird had been sent to reassure me that my boys would be okay.

And they were okay, eventually returning home to their wives and families—and me!—after their tours of duty.

I thought that was the end of my story until, recently, Tim told me, “I saw several cardinals in Afghanistan, in different places and in the mountains. I knew it was Mommer!” 

My heart overflowing, I thought: Oh, Mom, your wish did come true. For somehow, my mother had returned as a cardinal—and as an angel—to watch over and protect our family!

“The cardinals in Afghanistan and Florida were clear signs that Elaine and her sons were being loved and protected from Heaven!” affirms Doreen Virtue, Ph.D, of “While I don’t believe a human transforms into a bird, I do believe our loved ones and angels influence birds to act as messengers between Heaven and Earth.

“If you see a bird that reminds you of a loved one in Heaven and you sense you’re receiving a message, trust that feeling— especially when a wild bird lets you get near it or otherwise behaves unusually!” Dr. Virtue adds.

“The angels say, ‘Birds, feathers and angels go hand-in-hand, wing-in-wing to help your heart soar with divine love!’”

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