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Friday, May 1, 2009

Leah on a Cloud

Leah seems to be very present in my life at the moment and so she is permeating my writing, as well as my thoughts, memories, dreams, even conversations. I can't say why, but I trust that she is helping me work through her death in such a way that I don't feel her loss so deeply. She seems to be ushering me into a new phase of acceptance and I no longer push the feelings and memories down in fear that they will rip me apart. To the contrary, I welcome the visions. For me, they are keeping her alive. It's as if she's saying, "wait, see, I'm still here. I didn't go anywhere. I can still help." When she passed away, my children tried to comfort me and at the same time, make sense of death in a general way and of her loss in particular. Because death to all of us, children and adults alike, asks us to suspend all rationale and seek our own understanding of it's meaning, they each did so in a different way, befitting their individual personalities. They had met Leah and she had made a lasting impression on them. I remember very specifically that she had treated them like people, spoken to them levelly, listening as she always did with real interest and attention. I try to do the same for them these days. It's not my strongest quality, but it's a destination I will reach because I know how good it feels to know you are heard. Leah taught me that.
The following is a conversation I had last night with my 4 year old daugher, Sunny. I think it's worth sharing:

Sunny: "Mama, I don't want my kitty to be sick because then she might die." She begins to cry.

Me: "Oh, sweetheart, your kitty isn't going to die. She just has a little cold. She'll be just fine, I promise."

Sunny: "Will she won't die because she's just a baby and babies don't die? Is it not her time?"

Me: "No, it's not her time. She has a long kitty life ahead of her."

Sunny: "But it wasn't Leah's time and she died. She wasn't old."

Me: "Yes, that's true. She was still young, but her heart was sick and so she died."

Sunny: "Is she sitting on a cloud in the sky?"

Me: "Is that how you picture her?"

Sunny: "Uh-huh."

Me: "Then, yes, that's where she is. On a cloud in the sky."

Sunny: "If my kitty does die, can she go sit on the cloud next to Leah, so she can be petted."

Me: "I think that's an excellent idea."

Sunny: "Mama, will Leah come back in the Spring?"

Me: "Yes and no. She won't come back as she was before. We won't see her and talk to her like before. But when you see flowers bloom and birds sing, you'll know she's there. Her spirit is in all the beautiful things in the world and here in Senegal like the ocean and the baobab trees and our earth house. Leah's spirit lives in all the things we love."

Sunny: "Mama, I think Leah lives in pizza. . . and on a cloud in the sky."