Shimmerling by Andrea Skyberg
Dedicated to my brother Mitch (the wings)
and my daughter Celia (the roots)
Five years ago today, I had the worst call of my life, telling me that my brother Mitch had died. He was out on his motorcycle on a beautiful fall day when someone failed to look twice and hit him. It was devastating. I was pregnant with my second daughter at the time and exactly a week after Mitch died, I gave birth to Celia.
The grief at the loss of my brother and the excitement at the birth of my daughter left me straddling between a spiritual and earthly place. Every particle in the world came alive and died at the same time for me. In the chaos, beauty, and sorrow of the following months, I cried nearly every time I walked outside—watching the trees, which were beginning their cycle of ‘death”, drop their leaves for winter brought me immense joy as I witnessed their transformation. It also brought me tremendous pain at the loss of the beautiful and vibrant colors they once were. The birds that had filled my backyard with songs were gone, leaving for brighter skies. I don’t know what it is about birds and trees, but I was, and continue to be, utterly captivated by both. The day we said goodbye to Mitch, a bald eagle circle above us. The place I scattered his ashes was the dying birch tree we played on as children.
In these moments an idea was born of a magical creature called a Shimmerling. The Shimmerling had characteristics of a bird and a tree, but was different because it wasn’t just one thing—it was both. I think our human spirits and bodies are like the Shimmerling—our spirits eventually fly away and perch in another tree, while our bodies plant to the earth and slowly go to seed. We have the opportunity, like the Shimmerling, to grow where we are planted, and later to fly away and shine on.
I knew this idea had to exist as a book because books are also like the spirits of the trees and birds. A book, made from a tree, grounds us in our world and connects us to the stories of others. But the ideas in books are like the birds that allow us to fly away from what we know and into another time and place.
After writing Shimmerling and sharing the story, many people saw something different—they saw the idea of self-acceptance and of being who you really are. Those ideas are there too, just like my brother, who never shied away from being who he was. But when I read this story, I think of my daughter Celia—the roots. And I think of my brother Mitch—the wings.
To read Shimmerling click HERE.