During the first week of school, my AP Lang teacher gave us our first writing assignment. She wanted us to write about an incident, an event or a series of events that changed our lives. She told us it could be anything, literally any thing that had an impact on our lives. She admitted later that this was just a way for her to see what kind of writers we were so the prompt was something that should have been easy for everyone. So much has happened in my life that I almost laughed when she told us this was the prompt. There was so much for me to choose from but there was only one thing I really wanted to write about.
I decided to write about my grandmother’s death,mainly the things that happened after her death. This was a topic that I’d wanted to write about anyway because I’ve never really talked about her death with anyone, so this assignment came at the perfect time. It’s not a typical story about loosing a loved one because I’m not a typical person. Everyone handles death differently and I guess my way, as you’ll see, was a little unorthodox.
Anyway,I copied and pasted it here so enjoy it :).
What Makes You Blue
It was a family of blue jays. There on the inside of my grandmother’s casket, stitched perfectly in the most regal blue, was a family of four birds. Unconcerned and unwavered by the wailing of my grieving family. As I gazed past my grandmother’s still, cold face I wondered what they meant. Who asked for the birds to be put there? Why did they ask for them? My questions were never answered and as I said goodbye to my best friend I also said goodbye to the enigma surrounding those blue jays. At least that’s what I thought.
I was already numb before the funeral even began. My entire family was aware of my grandmother’s decision to die long before the day actually came. After years of pain and suffering she finally decided that she was done, she was at peace and she was ready. So for months we all pretended to be happy and ignored the giant elephant in the room that was just waiting. Looming over us like a giant storm cloud waiting to take the person that we all loved. When it finally happened though, I was drained. Emotionally I had nothing left, I didn’t even cry. In fact, I never cried, not even when the sky blue coffin slowly and dramatically descended into the dirt to be left there alone and buried. I was ready to leave, I’d said my goodbye and wanted to be gone. I turned my head towards the car but a bluebird perched on a tree branch caught my eye. This guest was a peculiar one. The bird sat and watched as everyone cried again I began to question it. In that moment I felt a surge of warmth, of happiness. I saw this bird and instantly knew that this was her. She wanted me to know she was there, still watching me, still loving me. The revelation that someone I had said goodbye to was still with me was mind blowing. I had never been very religious but my grandmother was a devout christian. Seeing her bird forced me to begin thinking about the afterlife and possibility of my grandmother reaching out to me from a place that I couldn’t yet know about.
As the years and I moved on, I occasionally thought of my grandmother. Certain things would make me smile when I thought of her. Wearing her favorite color, which was blue, and using her purple jewelry box that she left especially for me would make me happy because I knew she’d like it if she were here to see it. But with death comes the depression, the sadness. Everyone handles death differently but it hit my mother like a rock and as a pre-teen, I wasn’t prepared to deal with what was left after my grandmother was gone. I had my older brother, who was 16 and completely devoid of emotion and my younger brother who was barely 8 and probably still didn’t completely understand what was happening. The only person that I could really turn to was gone and although it sounds cliche I often found myself speaking out loud to her. Asking questions, trying to get advice. I felt alone and began to spiral along with my mother.
Alot of changes happened that year. My older brother moved to Iowa with his dad. And we moved across town to a new place and a new school. I was entering middle school and the excitement blinded me. I forgot that I was hurting and that I was in pain. I was able to start anew and be a normal happy child. We were trying to be normal and it worked. And then one day, while in the car, at a stop sign I turned my head and saw another one. A blue jay sitting on a street sign without a care in the world. I remember thinking “Okay I guess, I’m crazy then” and kind of shrugged it off. There was no way that this bird actually meant anything, right? That’s what I kept telling myself. It’s what I keep telling myself because these strange occurrences still take place and I’m still left wondering whether the birds actually mean anything.
As someone who is not particularly religious, the birds have made an impact on me. This simply means that I never really thought about God or heaven or anything until these birds. Now religion is such a heated topic that I can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere which means that it’s on my mind a lot. The birds relate to this simply because they are the reason why I began to ponder his existence in the first place. However, seeing the birds didn’t cause me to suddenly understand everything about religion. To this day I’m still in the same place I was then, although I’m much happier, older and as I like to tell myself, wiser.
Everytime I see a blue jay, my mind takes me back to that very first day. The very first time I saw one of those birds. They didn’t feel the loss or the pain that we carried that day. Their wings still carried them on into whatever peace birds find in the sky.I can only hope that my grandmother flew away with them and found the same freedom and peace that we all long for.