I released Savannah’s Bluebird a year ago. It stemmed from a vivid dream I had, and though it didn’t take me months and months of research as with my historical novels, it still holds a place in my heart. It’s the story of a man and woman who tried desperately to get married, but everything stood in the way of their wedding day – including death. I published it on February 11, 2014.
I dreamt it and wrote it in 2012, the month before we found out my future son-in-law had cancer. In late 2013, I finally dug it out of the archives and finished writing it. My boy was getting worse by the day and the wedding was canceled only a week before it was to occur. The day after I published Savannah, I received a call from my daughter that our boy had been admitted to the hospital. Within days, he was placed in hospice, and he took his last breath on February 24, 2014. I always read my books after they’re released, but my heart is still broken, and I can’t bring myself to read this one. It’s a little too close to home, but there’s a reason I wrote it and a reason it’s out there in the world. Perhaps someday, I’ll find out what that reason is. Here is a snippet of Savannah’s Bluebird where Savannah is having a flashback to her childhood.
Dedicated to my beautiful son
June 15, 1981 – February 24, 2014
You will always be the brightest star in our sky
August teased her. “If you remember correctly, I asked you to marry me twenty years ago under your dad’s apple tree.”
She sighed, closed her eyes in front of the foggy mirror, and absentmindedly began brushing her teeth. She could picture that big old apple tree like it was right in front of her. The branches spread out across the sky like an enormous umbrella shading the picnic table beneath it. At the end of a good summer, so many apples would be on the tree, the branches would almost touch the ground, burdened by the weight. The old paint-peeled table beneath the tree was a favorite place for the squirrels to sit and eat the apples, leaving half-eaten cores when they scampered off. August and Savannah spent many, many afternoons talking and playing and telling childhood secrets under that tree.
In the warmth of the late fall afternoon, Savannah sat alone at the picnic table with an array of colored silk threads spread out in front of her. The leaves had fallen a few weeks ago, leaving only a few stray apples on the ends of the branches. The sun shone through the branches, warming her hands, and the sweet smell of decaying apples and the crisp smell of dying leaves surrounded her, making her head swim with happiness. Fall was her favorite time of year. She stared at the woven fabric she was embroidering and sorted through the colored threads on the table.
An ocean inlet ran along the back of the property, and she could faintly hear the soft babble of the water splashing on the rocks, as well as the buzz of dragonflies and katydids. August appeared out of the dying brush that was only a few weeks ago thick summer bushes. He was wearing a brown button-up shirt, suspenders, and dirty trousers darkened by wetness up to the knees. Obviously, he had been playing at the inlet, probably trying to catch frogs or crawdads. He ran over to the picnic table and plopped down across from her.
“Watcha doin’?” He was short-winded from running.
“I’m working on a pillow covering for home economics class,” she answered.
She picked up the fabric, turned it around, and held it up for his approval.
He wrinkled his forehead and said, “It looks like a bird. I thought you liked dogs.”
“I do like dogs, but Mrs. Thompson said we have to create something that flies.” She rolled her eyes and placed it back in front of her on the table.
“Well, why don’t you sew a spaceship with a robot or something?” he asked, wrinkling his forehead.
“Only boys would make spaceships and robots.” She scowled at him. “I want to make something else. My dad told me this story about a bluebird. He said a gypsy woman told him the bluebird represents love, and if you’re with someone you love and see a bluebird, you’ll be with that person forever.” She picked up the blue thread and attempted to thread her needle. “So, I’m embroidering a bluebird.”
“Was it one of those gypsies down on the beach?”
“No, he said it was a gypsy woman in New Orleans a long time ago—before I was even born. He was working on the railroad down there when he met my mother. He said the day after the gypsy told him that story, he and momma saw a bluebird. They were married a few days later.”
When August didn’t respond, she looked up at him—and froze. Right above his head, on the lowest branch of the tree, sat a little bluebird. It was bright blue on top with a reddish-brown throat, and it was no more than a foot from them. She didn’t move, half afraid of scaring it away and half amazed that their conversation had suddenly manifested itself. August turned to follow her gaze and froze also. Neither of them dared breathe as they watched the bird—and the bird watched them.
“Will you hand me that towel?” August asked.
Savannah didn’t respond.
“Savannah, hello? Will you please hand me that towel?” August asked again, snapping Savannah’s attention back to the present.