Updated: May 19, 2021
“Grandma, that’s the craziest thing I ever heard,” I said as I placed the ragged green shawl around her bare shoulders. The crow sitting on the railing behind her eye balled me curiously. “Child, you don’t know what crazy is,” she cooed, petting her crow lovingly.
“Your parents did you a disservice by not raising you on the legends and stories that we passed onto them. All you kids believe in nowadays is those gadgets.” I rolled my eyes but smiled. Grandma was known for being a little eccentric, and we all loved her for it. While her stories were always good, sometimes scary, sometimes funny, I did not believe any of them. Not since I was a child anyways. She still told them to me and my cousins though, and encouraged us to carry on the traditions of our heritage. No matter how crazy they were. “So, you’re going to turn into a bird?” I laughed. “Yes, I am. This may be the last eclipse of my time, can’t waste it!” “Okay, explain this to me one more time. The eclipse happens.. and you switch bodies with Coco?” I gestured to the crow cleaning his feathers on the rail “Why would that happen? And why would you want to even do that?” Her milky eyes set in her pillowy, wrinkled face met my own, and she smiled warmly at me. “You were always the most skeptical out of all the children, do you know that?” She chuckled and pat my arm. “I like that about you though. Although I do wish you’d believe in magic a little more. The world needs more people who believe.” Her eyes lost focus in the trees behind us, and she sighed heavily. I felt bad for laughing at her. “Okay, Gran, so you can become a bird but only during the eclipse?” “Yes. Anyone can. With any animal. As long as it’s willing! You can’t switch bodies unless the animal accepts your offer. Think of the sun as God’s eye, child. It sees all. And he watches closely to make sure everything is how he made it, how it should be. But even God needs to sleep.” “When the sun goes down is when he’s sleeping?” “No no. The sun goes down on this side of the world, and it goes up on the other side. When he’s not watching us, he’s watching over there. You see?” “Oh right. That makes sense.” “When God needs to rest, he closes his eye but just for a short period of time. He doesn’t need to sleep like us. He closes it just for a moment,” she squints her eyes while she holds up her fingers to emphasize how small. “And then BOOM! He’s back awake and on duty to make sure everything is going as it should.” Her eyes sprung wide and she hopped a bit in her seat, sending Coco flapping his wings and squawking. Gran looked at Coco laughing. “So, the eclipse is God shutting his eye?” I watched her calming Coco and making kissy faces at him, and realized I was genuinely interested in hearing her story. It had been years since I’d really listened, and I hadn’t heard this one before. “Yes, that is God resting. And when his eyes are closed, the rules are off. It’s the only time you can try to change things that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Many things are possible during an eclipse. But I am an old woman, you know. I have lived a good life, Liza. I have had some fun, fallen in love, raised my beautiful children and gotten to know my wonderful grandkids,” she smiled at me with watery eyes and I felt the sting of tears beginning to form in my own. “Yes, I have lived a very good life. Blessed in so many ways. I feel it’s time to go. But I have always dreamed of flying! Since I was a little girl I would dream of having huge wings that would carry me away. I’ve just always loved birds, and I think they know that. That’s why they all come to me like they do, huh Coco?” She reached up making another kissy face at the crow, who in turn leaned down and nuzzled her head against Gran’s cheek. “So, you want to leave us?” I sounded more like a child than I had meant to. “No, of course I don’t! If I could stay here forever I would. But I can’t, child. Nobody can. I will die someday soon. But before I go, I want to fly high! Surf the wind and soar through clouds, weightless and free!” She held her hands up in the air and I could see her envisioning herself as a bird, and for a moment she looked like a younger version of herself. “What happens when the eclipse is over?” “Well,” she said bringing her hands down from the air and coming back to reality “God will open his eye and correct anything that isn’t as it should be.” “So you and Coco will switch back?” “No. God will take Coco and I back to the skies with him,” she said this so matter of factly I almost didn’t catch onto what she was saying. “Wait, you’ll die?!” “Yes. Souls aren’t made to be interchanged like that. Those are not God’s rules. And God only operates by his own rules, you see. So, to put us back into our own bodies would be to break his own rules, so instead he will take us back.” Her hands rested in her lap and Coco was pulling at a thread on her shawl. My mouth hung open as I realized my Gran was telling me she was going to die tomorrow after the eclipse. I was less worried about the myth being real or not as I was about her mindset. If she thought she was going to die, did that mean she was going to kill herself? Was she using this legend to gently tell me goodbye? “Grandma, please don’t go,” I flew into hysterics and knelt in front of her resting my head in her lap crying. “I’ll come visit you more! I love you!” “Oh, child, please don’t cry,” she said gently as she brushed my hair “I love you so much too. And I promise to come back as a bird often and check in on you. And you’ll know how happy I am because I am flying. You’ll see. I’ll always be with you. I promise. Now, let’s not talk about this any longer! Come inside, I’ll make you some fry bread,” and with that she kissed the top of my head and stood. Coco jumped from the railing and landed on her shoulder as she breezed through the siding glass door back into her house. She was singing and I could hear the clang of pans as Coco squawked. I think I’ll stay the night tonight and be here during the eclipse, just to be safe.