In a matter of months — February, March, April — I have lost my three grandmothers, and my children ushered into an unfamiliar season of grief and loss, death and dying.
The path to healing is different for everyone. Thankfully our path has been sprinkled with incredible friends who have comforted and held us up, compassionate classmates and colleagues and family members who have enveloped us in love. We forge ahead clinging to our faith and the countless stories we have found comfort in — the stories of and about our grandmothers and stories like The Yellow Suitcase.
The Yellow Suitcase, both relatable and affirming, addresses grief and loss — a universal experience, in the context of Asha’s culture. Asha returns to her grandmother’s home in India, a place she visited every summer. Familiar scents like jasmine flowers, objects like Grandma’s photograph hanging on the wall and the faces of family members blend with new faces and what appears to be an unfamiliar feeling for Asha – loss.
There are sweet lessons found in the pages of this book such as Asha’s decision to sit quietly in her backyard placing stickers on her suitcase and making cards. We see this as Asha taking care of her heart. How do you take care of your heart when it is grieving? Then there’s Asha saying that she’s “not ok!” Her declaration can empower readers to be able to do the same.
Later, a teary Asha finds comfort in a gift her grandma started creating long before her departure. In looking at the colorful quilt pieced together with parts of her grandma’s saris I can’t help but think of the nontangible gifts our loved ones start creating for us long before they depart. I reflect on the legacy my grandmothers created and how each of them left us with something beautiful; gifts seen and unseen (for now). I think about how their stories woven together have helped shape my own...
As Asha gets in the taxi and heads home it is evident that she is going home with so much more than the beautiful quilt tucked inside her suitcase.
The Yellow Suitcase Written by Meera Sriram + Illustrated by Meera Sethi