Thursday, May 27, 2021

Happy 15th Birthday, Norah!

Today, my rock-star daughter turns 15. 

There's lots I can say about Norah, but I've shared so much over the years that I feel like it'd just be repetitive. So instead of writing about what a sweet, smart, compassionate, talented human she is and has always been, today I'm turning this space over to her.

Norah's "final exam" for her 9th grade English class was a creative writing assignment. They were given very little direction. Just, "You have a week; write something creative." With her permission, today I'm publishing what she wrote. I found it so moving and so outstanding that I think it needs to be shared with as wide of an audience as possible. Enjoy.

And please take a moment to wish Norah a happy birthday. You'll find her on Twitter @normlmao_ or @norahmariemusic.

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Cardinal Directions

by Norah Hyman

I remember when I was alive, I heard that souls are reincarnated into the animal you always represented, so you can visit your loved ones. I didn't think that was true, but here I am eating birdseed out of a feeder in my daughter's backyard. It's strange to be sinking into a never-ending slumber only to be woken by the sound of birds chirping. It's even stranger when you open your eyes and discover you have red feathers surrounding your body. A cardinal, it's not the worst animal to be reincarnated into, and if I remember correctly they represent devoted relationships to loved ones. Considering my husband, Sam, and I had been married for sixty-three years I'm not too surprised. It's been three and a half years since we passed away, but we still feel at home when we see them. I feel like they know that it is us too, a female and male cardinal that always show up together, and are always at special events. We've seen Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, first and last days of school, school dances, and many more. Seeing them happy makes me think that they understand that we see them.

It's not all easy though, sometimes I feel like it would be easier to not see what they do. I want to join them for holidays ... I want to celebrate with them. When they cry I want to hug them tight and never let go. I want to tell them how much I love them and how much I miss them, but all that comes out of my beak is indecipherable noises that they will never be able to understand. I wonder if they miss me as much as I miss them; I hope they do.

Colleen is out in the backyard again refilling the feeder, birds are greedy and she has to refill it at least twice a week. I don't mind at all, it makes it easier to see her, windows provide too much glare. I feel like she knows. She always says hi to me when she sees me, but maybe she just does this to all cardinals. There is no true way to tell the difference between all of us, to the human eye a bird is a bird, you're lucky if they can tell the difference between a male and female bird. She finishes filling up the feeder and the two dogs run up to it to investigate. I know that the older one is Loula, she was always scared of my oxygen when Sam and I would go over for dinner. They got this new one two years ago I believe (a bird's memory isn't great), and I think his name is Dante? He is quite a pistol, I mean, I cannot fathom how a creature can have as much energy as he does. He's constantly running, barking, and chasing all of us around. God forbid a bird can get some food when he is around. It's hilarious, he thinks that if he walks slowly we won't be able to see him, how comical!

At least they have a big window into their kitchen and morning room, it makes it easy to see them all together. It's nice to see them laughing over the dinner table, and both Sam and I get envious whenever Jon makes steak. That was our favorite meal to eat with them, and Jon does grill a pretty perfect steak. Although I no longer have a sense of smell or taste, I can just imagine what that steak smells and tastes like. It was absolutely heaven on a plate. I don't understand how Norah never finishes it, and Donovan doesn't even start it! He has gotten more experimental with food, it used to just be pasta or pizza every single night for him. At least he eats some meat now and eats what everyone else is eating most nights.

Sometimes Norah and Donovan will take the dogs on a walk. I'm not sure what provokes them to do this, since they don't go every night like Colleen and Jon do. I try to sneak through the trees when they walk. Donovan has gotten so tall, at this point he's almost as tall as Norah! She might have an inch or two on him, but my depth perception isn't great so I really can't accurately tell. It's nice to see that they still have the same strong relationship that they had when they were younger. They would always run around in the basement with each other and watch Nickelodeon next to each other on the floor, way too close to the television. They wouldn't come upstairs much, but just having their energy in the house was nice. The rest of the grandkids would rarely visit; the only time our house would be full was on holidays, and that was it.

You would think that after three years of being a bird you would come to terms with it, but I miss life ... human life. Sure, having a second chance at life is wonderful, but it is just so different. It's not like they know that you're their mother or grandmother. To them you're just this greedy bird that comes back for food every day. Maybe they think that every time it's a different bird, they don't know that I'm watching over them. One day when I stop showing up they won't even notice, they probably don't even notice right now. Soon enough the day will come when I can no longer flap my wings to soar into the neighborhood. Soon enough the day will come when I'll have to say goodbye ... and that day did come.

It came to a point where it was getting more and more difficult to fly to their house and see what they were doing. Flying was becoming more of a chore rather than a pleasure. It was painful, my entire body would shake while I was trying to get enough momentum to fly myself up into my tree ... and then I couldn't leave. It had come to the point where any movement, even the slightest jerk, was unbearable and made my entire body twitch with pain. And then I felt it, the same feeling I had felt laying in a hospital bed three years ago. My eyes slowly started to close and I began to drift into a deep slumber. They slowly twitched as I tried to keep my eyelids from touching each other. And then all I saw was darkness and I never got to say goodbye to them ... I didn't get the chance to fly by their house one last time, or watch them laugh together at the dinner table. Now all I can do is hope that they're still doing okay, and I'll always be there, watching from a distance. But physical distance didn't stop me before, I'll still be watching them from above and loving them forever.

* Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash