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Every. Little. Thing.

By Audrey Milner

0-20At age 42, after a brief but valiant marriage, I sent myself to my first creative writing class. My life had become tightly constricted around my husband and child, and I desperately needed to open up again, to any possibility of hope or excitement.

Our instructor was a reassuring man in his early 60s. I could barely restrain myself from addressing his every question. Please, please, please, let there be more remaining to my life than the last few years have shown me.

After our round of introductions, the instructor wrote a four-step writing prompt on the white board. My pen hovered until he said, “Go.”

1) Think of three people in your past.

I had lost three, all so small, but big enough to matter.  I wrote without thinking:

first little person

second little person

third little person

2) Write a question to the first person.

Were you surprised to slip out so quickly? Were you in my clothes, or in the toilet, or on the hospital floor? Or were you in a plastic tube, and then sent for incineration? What is it like where you are? Is there something I can do for you now?

3) Write her answer.

I had barely begun. Everything was a surprise. Life was a surprise. Death was a surprise. I know you were surprised, too.

I am with others now who are not with you. We are fine. We watch you, and are curious, and send you our love. It’s a blurry line between you and us.

What can you do for me? You can love your son. Your son and I rose from the same pool of Life. You can move forward because we are all with you.

4) Now, think of a song.

Song? I don’t have a song from that time…

But the first song that comes to mind is Bob Marley: “Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing will be alright.”

A realization knocked the wind out of me: the title of that song is “Three Little Birds.”

“Woke up this morning, smiled at the rising sun

Three little birds, outside my window

Singing sweet songs, a melody clear and true

Singing, this is my message to you.

Don’t worry about a thing

Cause every little thing will be alright…”

It was simple, perfect, and I wept, with the sounds of pens scratching paper, and the instructor’s warmth quietly radiating out to me.

Maybe these three little people, these three lost possibilities and hopes, are my Three Little Birds, and this is their message to me: “Every little thing will be alright.”

Take your class. Love your son. Open your life. Every little thing will be all right.

Audrey Milner is a mother, writer, reader and ocean lover. This is her first foray into creative nonfiction.

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