5 years ago, I peacefully sat at my dining room table one night drawing this little bird.
I had no idea what the next week held for me, and that it would shatter my world. While I drew this little bird over and over, obsessing about the tail not being the right angle, erasing and redrawing and erasing again, I had no idea that in such a short amount of time, the man I loved and planned to marry would be killed suddenly and tragically by my neighbor.
While I sat and drew this little bird, I felt safe in my house. I had no idea that in just one week, the house would become a place of horror, memories and nightmares that would haunt me for years. While I drew this little bird I never imagined I wouldn't feel safe in my house, and would never draw another little bird at that table again.
When I drew this little bird, I thought I had everything, and I did. A man who loved me and wanted to share his life with me and me with him, a career path for myself, a house I owned and the plans to remodel it... I had no idea that in a week after drawing this little bird, that I would be broken into a million pieces. I had no idea that I would be unable to fully pull the pieces of myself back together and become me again for years.
When I drew this little bird, I had no idea what journey lay ahead of me, and I definitely didn't know that this little bird would leave me, and her journey would be so much different than mine.
After the night Carter was killed, I was still in shock at the police station, while this little bird sat in a pile of drawings on my dining room table. The end of Carter's life, and my life as I knew it, was the beginning of this little bird having a life of her own. That day, while grief's hands ripped at my chest and stomach, this little bird was found and freed. I always thought she would stay with me, as part of me, but when I was too weak to stand, someone took her and promised her a better life. I don't blame this little bird... I was a mess at the time.
The next few years I wandered aimlessly, searching for signs and clues in nature and all around me to tell me to live, and why I should want to live. Simultaneously as I wandered, unbeknownst to me, the person who promised this little bird a better life had bigger plans for her than just me; a wreckage of tears.
This little bird was copied and put into frames with lyrics of Carter's and given out to those around her, but not me... Even though I'd been promised one of these cherished items, I never received one. That's when I knew this little bird had begun to change, and left me in the dust.
She must have sensed my weakness and thought she could fill the role I was too "emotionally unstable" to fill. This little bird became tired of just being "Ryann's" little bird, drawn with pencil on paper. She wanted to be much bigger than that.
I would have never guessed that this little bird would become so many things. So many of the things she became I only found out about through other little birds telling me long after the fact.
While I searched for myself and sense of security, this little bird was given wings, became a tattoo, a company logo, a name for a horse, a concert poster, and then came full circle to raise money for a foundation started in Carter's memory.
This little bird must have sensed that I was too weak for the task. So she became the symbol for my idea born in the aftermath, of my grief, that I had shared with the person who lured her away. My idea to take pieces of Carter, his guitar strings that he had loved and touched, and make them into something tangible I could wear and hold on to. Instead, this little bird taught me that nothing tangible lasts forever.
It's 5 years later. I'm not broken anymore. I still love and miss Carter everyday. He and I delighted inthis little bird together. Even though I wish I was included in memorials to him, I take some satisfaction in knowing that this little bird I drew, well before I knew grief, has taken on a life of her own and is very front and center in his memory, even if I'm not.
So I left this little bird behind, but always had my eye on this bird from afar. I moved on and forward with my head held high and his love and memories tattooed on my heart. I have a new love of my life, he is 3 and makes my heart smile everyday: I am a mother now. I have plans for my future, but I know not to trust in plans too much. I know that there is no boring in life. The moments where nothing is happening are peaceful and the most beautiful moments of all. I no longer take those moments for granted. I've found me again. I'm strong again. Strong enough to tell everyone that this is my little bird, and I'm ready for this little bird to claim me too.
I'm so proud of this little bird, and all she has accomplished. I'm sad she felt the need to shut me out and pretend like I didn't create her with love and care. This little bird left me in my darkest days to pursue her desires without even a postcard from her journey. This little bird broke my heart, but at the same time, this little bird has made me proud to say, "she's mine!"
This post brought to you by Ryann Rathbone
"This little Bird" is both metaphoric and literal. It vents the past and present feeling of anger, betrayal, hope and love one experiences after losing a loved one.