Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grasping at Grandpa

A recent conversation with Cecily ::

Cecily: What happens if Grandpa gets hit by a car?

Me:  Which Grandpa?

C:  Tickle Grandpa.

M:  He can't.  He already died.

C:  But what if he gets hit after he comes alive again?

M:  He can only die once.  When we are resurrected we live forever.

C:  But we will die.

M:  Yes, because we're still mortal.  We will die and then we will be resurrected and we will live forever.  We'll never die again.

C:  Oh, it's like Rapunzel's hair.

May I comment on this exchange with some degree of earnestness?

I believe what I told Cecily.  My God, My Eternal Father in the Heavens above is real.  He gave me my own Father here in this life - the divine gift of family, because family has always been the very illuminated center of the vastly encompassing and simple plan of all our existence.  The man who is my earthly father is also a child to our spiritual Father.  My Dad and I - we are father and daughter - we are brother and sister.   Both recipients of the resurrection that Jesus Christ purchased for us.  The ALL us.  The every-human-being-who-has-ever-lived us.

In my life this is not a fantastical, wish-it-were-true fairy tale.  This is the truth by which I make every choice.

God speaks to his children.  Of whom, I am one who is listening.  Sometimes.

Cecily is fixated with the death of her Tickle Grandpa.  She is three, so her mind harbors the experience in a way I am still trying to understand.  The entirety of her conscious life has been dominated by . . . change? . . . upheaval?  I'm not sure what to call her experience.  At two she was trying to grasp the new, abstract absence of her beloved Tickle Grandpa.  Shortly thereafter she was pulled from her bed and her home to escape a flood that defined our exit from Salt Lake City itself.  From January 28th of 2011 to present she has been without a stability of spirit.

In the midst of all this the constant has been her fixation with Grandpa.  It manifests itself in strange places.  Cecily's sadness, anger, and delight can all find a voice in Tickle Grandpa.

She watches me open a pomegranate and slowly extract the arils into a bowl for all of the children to eat unhindered by the leathery skin and difficult pith.  In the motions of it I see my Dad's hands that have countless times done this same thing.  He was born to the desert, eating pomegranates from beginning to end.
Cecily interrupts my thoughts with her own.  "When he comes back alive, I think Tickle Grandpa will like to have pomegranate seeds for a snack."
"I'm sure he will, Cecily.  Tickle Grandpa loves pomegranates."
Let's just hope that he is not gobbling them up in the afterlife making himself prisoner to the dark one like poor Persephone.


Cecily comes to me in the morning, still rubbing sleep from her eyes, holding a little Boppy.  "Mom, I feel like I'm dreaming out of my Grandpa."


Cecily prays incessantly.  She is in a stage of defying everyone else in the house the opportunity to pray because she owns it.  And in every prayer is the same request, "Please bless my Tickle Grandpa to come back alive."


She requests stories over and over that feature baby Cecily and Tickle Grandpa.  Her favorite is simply this:
Baby Cecily and Tickle Grandpa were sooo tired.  Grandpa laid down on the couch, put Cecily right  on his chest and they both fell asleep.


I find Cecily at the computer looking at the screen of all our Skype Contacts.  She looks at me with terrible disappointment and says "I skyped Tickle Grandpa, but he wasn't alive."


In the midst of a tearful, screaming argument with Caroline, Cecily shouts, "STOP CAROLINE! You're making my Grandpa not come back alive!"

It is this declaration that has given me the most insight into her experience.  She interprets all hurt through the lens of Grandpa being dead.  The more she hurts, for whatever reason, the farther away is the reality or memory of Grandpa.  And where there is peace there is also the greater possibility of his return.

I had a dream the other night in which my Dad visited me.  When my eyes met his I refused to look away, knowing that I was dreaming, knowing that he was really with me, knowing that in the moment I looked away he would be gone.  I miss him.  I didn't want him to go.  I touched his arm and we both began to float slowly away, into the sky.  All the while I would not let go of his eyes.  He smiled and touched my hand that was on his arm, "It's ok Jess.  You can stay here.  It's ok. I'm ok."

So if any of you have been wondering - he says he's ok.


aubtobobtolob said...

and he is.... ok.

Unknown said...

It's all so sweet... to see them trying to process what we adults still struggle with... Our 3 year old is fascinated with death right now. Friends of ours lost a 4 mo. old baby boy and she often remembers him, prays for him, and talks about when we will see him again. They're right... it's just not right to have to live without those who go before us :-( And yet, that is the way God made it... He is with us through all of it and that is the best part by far. We Campbells were missing your Dad today too... and we decided, in his honor, we will share a pomegranate (a rare occurrence in our house) every Jan. 28th. I loved seeing the pics of your family from the past :-)