07 May 2008

In Her Heaven

Curious Girl is busy with thank you notes for her birthday. Tante Mississippi and Curly Haired Cousin gave her a birthstone necklace, and here's what she told them at the end of the note:
I'm glad you're my aunt and Curly Haired Cousin is my cousin, and that Uncle Quiet used to be my uncle. Now he's uncle in my heaven.
We don't really talk much around here about heaven (except when CG is spinning theories about it), but it fascinates me to see CG's ideas about life and death playing out as she gets used to Uncle Quiet's death. Every now and then she'll ask me what Uncle Quiet is doing now, and I usually respond with the parental classic: "what do you think?" She has a lot of answers: "being dead," "taking a bath," or "sleeping" being some recent ones. (Yes, we have had a conversation about whether heaven has bathtubs. Haven't you? For the question of whether heaven is or is not like Facebook, I recommend you to the comments on a fabulous post by Arwen.)

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One night last week, Curious Girl woke up. As I snuggled her back to sleep, she said, "Do you want to hear a story about Uncle Quiet?" I did, of course. "Once upon a time there was Uncle Quiet. He was very kind. The End." I asked her if I could write that down for Tante Mississippi, telling her that I liked the story very much and that Tante Mississippi would, too. CG said, "Oh, and a joke, too. She needs a joke." She stopped to consider. "The pink tiara, was that at my party or Curly Haired Cousin's?" She was trying to remember where she saw Uncle Quiet playing with her sparkly tiara with pink fur trimming. We have a great photo of them together, being silly. Uncle Quiet had quite the silly side, which is really rather funny, as he was so very unsilly in many respects: he was the snappiest dresser of any male friend I've had, and reserved, and dignified. So the sight of him teasing Curly Haired Cousin and CG with the tiara was pretty funny. "I'll tell her a joke after the story. That will make her more happy." "Knock knock." (all together now..."who's there?") "Tiara." ("tiara who?") "Pink tiara."

She may have more social graces than comedy skills, I grant you. But she is awfully sweet.

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I miss Quiet Friend. CG's birthday party was the first social event at our house that he missed--Politica and I were always quite touched that he almost always came to events at our house even when he was super tired. But this time, no Quiet Friend. Mississippi Friend came, and we spent part of the party talking about the weather and cooking, trying to remember which was the party where she and Politica were at the grill, one cooking, the other holding an umbrella, and which was the party where Quiet Friend did the cooking in the rain.

Mississippi Friend is having a tough time of it, which is normal, I suppose, but as she points out, it's pretty darn irritating to have people say "Oh, that's normal," when she tells them something about her grief (so let me amend that sentence: what she's experiencing is so.not.normal: there's nothing normal about losing your 43 year old husband whose last 7 years included so much pain, fatigue, and medical procedures. It's not fair, is what it is.). It's clear from Mississippi Friend's stories that even the most well-meaning friends or relatives can say totally wrong-headed things. I've thought a lot about a thoughtful post Snickollet wrote on grief a while back, outlining ways people can do for their grieving friends. It's frustrating, watching a friend grieve: what she really wants is a whole re-do from the Universe, and we can't give her that. I can only hope that Politica, CG, and I are generally more helpful to her than not. I'm working on a letter that simply collects some of my favorite memories of Quiet Friend. One thing I can do, is write. So I write here, and will write privately for Mississippi Friend and Curly Haired Cousin, hoping my words capture some of the love we hold for her and Quiet Friend, here, and in our heavens.

4 comments:

Magpie said...

That is a lovely post.

And the pink tiara joke is the best!

kathy a. said...

very beautiful post.

liz said...

Beautiful post. I'm keeping Mississippi Friend in my thoughts.

kathy a. said...

CG is always going to be a lovely, caring person. she is really absorbing what life is about in some deep ways.