An Eagle Takes Flight

January 26, 2008
By Chloe Higley, Branford, CT

"He will raise you up on eagle's wings," sang a voice that rang throughout the church as if the music notes themselves were actually flowing through our ears. I remember that day; I was sitting in the front row between my mother and my grandmother, both of which were choking back tears. My great grandfather's casket waited outside to be buried. I was only eight years old at the time, but I was well aware of what was happening. It was mid-January and I could see the snow on the frozen earth through a clear pane of the stained glass window to my left. It was dreadfully cold out that day, harsh winds blew through the air and made the tops of the white frosted trees rhythmically sway back and forth, back and forth. I couldn't help but wonder where my great grandfather was now. I imagined him sitting on top of a cloud in heaven, looking down upon my family and me as we sat in that cold pew, remembering his life.

As I gazed out the window, I found my mind starting to drift away from what was happening around me and I suddenly felt as though I were back at my grandma's house, when I used to live there, standing in the kitchen by the freezer. I was six years old that summer and every night at seven o'clock, my grandma would tell me to go bring an ice cream sandwich up to my great grandpa, whom I called Fafa. I would knock on his door at the end of the long hallway upstairs and await his call to welcome me in. His room was warm and inviting, it smelled of must and old cologne. He would be sitting in his chair by the window, watching the baseball game. He never had a favorite team; he would root for whoever was winning that season. I walked in and delivered him his ice cream sandwich, he beamed at me, a grin almost ear to ear, and told me to sit down. I would sit there on the end of his bed, my feet dangling a few inches from the floor, and I would listen intently to the stories he told. He would tell me stories of when my grandma was a little girl like me, or when my uncle, Chris, would play tricks on my mom when they were children. Sometimes he would tell me stories from when I was a baby and how I would always make him smile whenever I was in the room. I remembered how he used to always call our dog, Chia, cheetah because he was losing his hearing and thought that was her real name. It always made me giggle when he said that and I would say, "No Fafa, her name is Chia, not cheetah," and he would always respond, "Right, Cheetah, that's what I said." It was then that I came back to reality and noticed that people were getting up around me.

This was the first funeral that I had ever been to and perhaps the only one I can still remember clearly. My Fafa was my only great grandparent that I had ever met; he was the only one who was still alive when I was born. I watched as the crowd of people preceded out the church doors and made their way towards the burial site. I followed my mother and grandmother outside into the freezing cold January winds. When we got to the place my Fafa was to be buried, I thought to myself, "Why are we all standing around his casket watching his body being lowered into the ground when we should be looking up at the sky, where his soul was?" At that moment I looked into the gray cloudless sky and tried to picture what heaven looked like. Maybe it was different for everyone, depending on his or her view of it. I had always imagined it to be a bright white light full of pink clouds and a perfect blue sky, the way it was portrayed in stories and picture books I had seen. But maybe it wasn't like that; maybe it was different.

The day at my Fafa's funeral was the day that changed my entire outlook of the way that things were. From that day on, I began to question everything and picture things in ways I never thought possible. I allowed my imagination to take hold of me and inspire me, taking my creativity to new levels. Even though I was only eight years old at the time, I thought deeply and intensely into things. Eight years old was the age I began writing down everything that happened in my mind and started turning it into poetry. This was an important change in my life because it opened up new doors for me and allowed me to let my imagination take me away to places I've never been. It sparked my interest to find my first passion in life and I loved it.

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