Aary Aardvark walked as quietly around the bird as he could hoping to startle or wake it. The blue bird didn’t make a sound. In fact, nothing happened. The bird neither moved nor flew away. Aarvy sat down, spellbound by its beauty. As Aary sat watching the still blue bird with the orange wing bands he remembered lying in the clearing watching the birds fly and play in the sky.
After a long time of silence he spoke to the blue bird. He spoke very softly—“You have taught me a lot, beautiful bird,” he said. And to his amazement he added, ”I love you.”
Now Aarvy didn’t understand why he had said “I love you,” to the still blue bird. But he didn’t have to understand. The words came from something that was stirring up inside of him. It was a feeling. Aarvy had learned to trust his feelings…and to let them out.
“Your feelings stir you up so they can help you understand yourself and grow, Aarvy,” his friend Ralphy Rabbit had said late one night during one of their talks of the long wet spell.
“Feelings are friends not enemies,” he continued. “But lots of times, especially when we’re very sad, or hurt, or scared, or mad, we treat feelings like they are our enemies. We try to shut them up, or fight them.
“The funny thing is” continued Ralphy Rabbit shaking his ling grey whiskers, “we think we’ve won the battle when we silence our feelings by burying them or locking them up. But feelings live inside of us. So all we’ve really done is bury or lock up ourselves.
“The thing to do with feelings” said Ralphy with a twinkle in his eyes, “is to invite them to come outside in the open so we can dance with then.”
Aarvy Aardvark liked what Ralphy had said about feelings, but he hadn’t understood it all. Especially the part about dancing with them.
Post and discuss:
- List why it might be helpful for Aarvy to trust his feelings during grief.
- What problems might be caused by not expressing his feelings?
- What helps you when you are feeling sad, mad, and bad?
- People who are grieving are often helped by finding people to be guides or models like Ralphy Rabbit is for Aarvy. Tell the story of someone who helped you when you were feeling very down.
- What did the person say? What did the person do?
- Name five of the strongest feelings of grief. Tell how these feelings might be dealt with in a helpful way.
From Aary Aardvark Fidns Hope: A Story for People of All Ages by Donna O’Toole. Copyright 1986. The Rainbow Connection, 477 Hannahy Branch Road, Burnsville, N.C. 288714. Used with permission of author.