Updated: Mar 30
It was 1978 in Roswell, Georgia and I was six years old, running barefoot through the woods with two of my friends Julie and her mom’s boyfriend’s son Keith(her mom said we had to let him come).
We were playing Charlie’s Angles and he was the bad guy we were chasing to arrest him for doing bad guy stuff.
You could hear cicadas singing loudly in the trees and smell rain coming on the air.
Suddenly, I tripped(I did that a lot), and hit the ground with an audible oomph!
That’s when I saw it. Laying right beside my hand, was a blue and black colored bird.
“Guys! Look what I found!”
Julie and Keith came running, Keith picked up a stick to poke at the bird.
I yelled, “ Don’t do that!”.
“It’s just a dumb ol’ dead bird”, said Keith.
“Poor Lil bird”, I said. Julie asked, ”what should we do?”
I had just seen a movie with a cowboy who died in it so I decided, we needed to have a funeral like in the movie.
“We are going to have a bird funeral”.
I started thinking about what we needed…hmmmm….they put the cowboy in a box…. “We need a box, and I know where there are lots of them!”
I scooped up the bird and ran up the hill to our apartment. I flung the door open, it bounced back off the wall a bit as I ran inside holding the bird against my chest, “mom! I need a box!”
I ran into my parents room and into their closet where I knew there was at least million shoe boxes(my dad bought shoes for his job).
My mom came up behind me and said, “what are you doing?”
“I need a box for my bird funeral”.
She said, “what bird?” I turned around and held out my hands and said, “this one”.
Mom said, “Jennifer!” In that voice I knew meant I was in trouble.
“That thing is probably full of lice or bugs or both!” She grabbed a tissue out of the tissue box and wrapped it around the bird and picked the bird out of my hands with two fingers and went out to the balcony and flung the bird over the railing.
Then she turned around and told me, “go wash your hands and use soap, not just water.”
I ran to the kitchen and splashed my hands under the water and then wiped them on my shorts and then peeked over my shoulder to see where mom was.
No where in sight…..I quietly slid open the silverware drawer and grabbed one of the big spoons and then backed out of the kitchen into the living room to the still open front door.
“Bye Mom, I’m going outside!” I heard her say, “be home by dark!”
Waiting in the hall was Julie and Keith, “come on, we have to go get the bird, my mom pitched him off the balcony.”
Julie asked, “where’s the box we gotta bury him in?”
“I couldn’t get one, we will have to do the funeral with out one.”
We ran down the stairs and out the back of the building, “there it is!” Yelled Keith.
The bird still had the tissue around it so I scooped it up and we ran back inside the building and up the stairs to go out the front to my “fort”.
There was a big dogwood tree outside my bedroom window, the branches reached all the way down to the ground. I had made a fort inside under the branches.
We had to get down on our hands and knees to go inside. I crawled all the way towards the back where we never went and got the spoon out of my back pocket and started digging a hole.
I told Julie and Keith to get some rocks from the parking lot while I was digging.
Once the hole seemed big enough I shouted for Julie and Keith to come back.
They both crawled in on either side of me and I put the bird in the hole, still wrapped in the tissue and pushed the dirt over the body.
“Now we need the rocks.”
They handed me the rocks they found and I laid them over the little pile of dirt on top of the bird. “hmmm, we need a cross, like in the movie…..” Keith picked up a twig out of my rolly polly village on the other side of the tree and said, “how about this?”
“YES! That looks like a bird cross.”(It was in the shape of a Y, but I didn’t think the bird would mind).
I stuck it in the ground by the little pile of rocks and said, “now we have to pray…..”
We all just looked at each other for a minute and then I sighed and said, “I’ll start, bow your heads……”
“I pledge allegiance (they both joined right in)to the flag of the United States of America, for witches Stan, one nation under God, invisible and justice for all, in Jesus name, AMEN!”
Just then the wind started to blow around a bit and I could hear it start to rain.
“Oh No Toto! We’re not in Kansas anymore!”I screeched(I loved the Wizard of Oz and would say that every time it rained).
Then the rain started coming down hard, as we crawled out from under the tree and I shouted to Julie and Keith, “see you tomorrow!”
That was my first official funeral, at least the first one I remember anyway.
This past year has been the biggest roller coaster of ups and downs I’ve ever experienced in my life.
Who would have thought the whole world would come to a screeching halt because of a virus??? I know, lots of virologist have been predicting something like this for years, but still….no one actually thought it would happen.
The emotional toll is something I think people will be recovering from for quite a long time yet. So many things had to be put on hold, or missed all together.
So many lives have been changed forever.
I know so many people who have lost someone.
We lost my grandma.
She was that person who everyone always joked about how she was going to out live us all because she was just so stubborn and stalwart. It still seems like she’s still there, in Copan Oklahoma, visiting with her friends, bragging about her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I went to pick out her Mother’s Day gift the other day and it took a while before I remembered…
We never got the opportunity to celebrate our children graduating from college and grad school. We missed a lot of birthdays and anniversaries too.
We(me and my husband) spent the majority of 2020 wondering if our businesses would survive.
On top of all of that, there was this underling, unrelenting tension in the air so thick you could feel it, with a spark of political unrest set to blow like a nuclear bomb at any given moment.
Families have been torn apart by taking sides in what turned out to be an outrageously, insane political season.
I know things have been worse, I mean, we’ve been in two world wars, but in my life time, this felt like the worst.
Like for the first time, things were not getting better, things were really getting worse.
For the first time in my life I was at a place where I was completely on the opposite side from almost everyone in my family except my husband, children and a cousin.
I felt sick, all the time. I cried almost every night.
As much as I couldn’t understand their position, I’m sure they felt the same way about me. I felt alone and abandoned by everyone I thought was supposed to love me no matter what. I didn’t stop loving them, why did they stop caring about me? Because I have different ideas and beliefs?
People came in to my office to see me, suffering the same sort of stress and trauma with their own families.
People unfriending and blocking family members. People having shouting arguments with family members whom have never raised their voices before. People completely cutting family members out of their lives and not speaking at all.
It’s like this movie I saw once were people went nuts and started killing each other because some mold spore got into the town water supply.
People can be so thoughtless online. The anonymous nature of posting on Facebook seems to be the passive aggressive persons absolute dream of communication.
Spew all sorts of mean, hateful things and then ignore anyone who tries to have a meaningful discourse with you.
Then this person finds someone who enjoys the same kind of internet bulling that they do and then its a free for all dump of nasty, prejudicial, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, misogynist garbage that makes some people feel good about themselves for five minutes till its time to start over again.
Where does it end? Will it end?
Are we over the rainbow yet? I've been feeling more hopeful lately. I know we have so much further to go, but the hope is there. My heart is a little bit lighter these days.
It looks like it's going to rain again…..Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore……