Free Like a Bluebird

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Like fans all over the world, I am still in shock over the death of music legend David Bowie just two days ago on January 10, 2016. His final music video, “Lazarus,” was released three days before his death. I watched the video last night, captivated by the metaphoric and haunting images of Bowie preparing to die.

The lyrics to “Lazarus” are equally poignant to me. Bowie delivers the first line of the song lying in bed, clutching sheets up to his chin. With bandages wrapped around his head and covering his eyes, Bowie implores,“Look up here, I’m in heaven.”

As Bowie alludes to his life throughout the song with references to New York, living like a king, using up all his money, and having nothing left to lose, the video depicts him appearing to make a desperate attempt to recall things and write them down.

As the video comes to a close, Bowie is shown back in bed, a loose white night shirt hanging on his thin frame. With his arms extended upward he sings,“You know I’ll be free just like that bluebird.”

Bowie’s mention of a bluebird sent chills down my spine. Several weeks after my brother’s death (from cancer, like Bowie’s), a bluebird, specifically a Western Scrub-Jay, started appearing in my back yard. Unlike other birds, this bluebird’s call is not soft and sweet; it is very loud and sharp. This bird screeched incessantly every morning until I peered out my windows or went outside to look for it. The bird wore me down, and eventually I learned to enjoy its visits, taking them to be a sign from my brother. The bird’s visits grew more infrequent as the months passed, which felt like my brother’s way of saying he was okay and had things to do, so I should get back to the business of living.

When my mother-in-law passed away the following year, two bluebirds (two Western Scrub-Jays) started appearing together in my back yard. They did the same thing, screeching in stereo until I looked out my window or went out to greet them. They came together daily for a while; at times when I missed my mother the most, one bird came alone.

I have no doubt that David Bowie will be free like a bluebird. In fact, I know he’ll be in very good company.

© Living off Island, Writing Wahine, 2016.



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