By Michele Dalby
As a little girl, I always wondered when family passed away, if I would ever see them again. I often had dreams of seeing them but never in their body.
My grandfather passed away when I was thirteen. Days later, while looking out the window, I saw a blue jay. From that day forward, especially when I was upset, he would show up. In my mind, it was always the same bird.
Recently, my grandmother passed away. She and I would sit outside watching the hummingbirds fight on the bird feeder. As her illness got worse, I would ask her if she would come back as a hummingbird. She never gave me an answer:
Well, I honestly feel in my heart she did because days before we moved out of her house, a newborn hummingbird appeared. Once again, I was upset. I had to move out of my childhood home and leave years of memories behind. Both of my grandparents died in that house.
Standing in the backyard, she flew over my head to get my attention, which she definitely did. With her tiny back to me up high on a branch, she groomed herself. As I stood there, tears fell down my face. I asked my Nani to please show me what I needed to do next.
She flew down lower. Now perched on a branch closer to me, I told her I was sorry. I wasn’t there when she went. I’ve never known a hummingbird to sit completely still. But she was. I told her not to worry because soon enough, she would get her beautiful wings she deserves.
In Memory of Dominic & Gayetta Martino
About Project Free Write…
Poet, scholar, and activist Maya Angelou once wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Project Free Write heeds this wisdom.
Founded by the Yolo County Public Defender, Project Free Write is an eight-week storytelling workshop for criminal legal system impacted persons with a mission to bear witness to their voices, their experiences, and their common humanity.
Classes and creative workshops take place at the Day Reporting Center, a county program that provides comprehensive evidence-based services to men and women on probation, parole, or released from the local jail.
In addition to reading and discussing various stories, students are given ample time to “free-write” or draw their own stories and experiences in their own words. In sharing these stories with the Yolo County community, Project Free Writes inspires individuals to advocate for one another’s humanity and seek meaningful change in the criminal legal system.