Thursday, July 21, 2011

He knows enough.

You left this world three months before he entered it. He has your blue eyes with the same sparkle, and a laugh that turns heads and gets everyone else laughing, too.

Tonight, he asked me about you.

Did grandaddy really die?

Four years old. Or, four years young, truly. I don’t want him to know death yet. I want him to think the world is full of shiny, happy moments. To believe that dark clouds just mean a chance to play in the rain.

Yes. That’s why you’ve never met him. He died before you were born.

He frowned and looked down at his supper. And his eyes looked so sad, in a way that a child’s eyes should never look. I just waited. Finally, he looked back at me.

What happened to him?

I don’t want him to know that bad things can take good people and break them. The alcohol that stole your brother and left behind a mean drunk who put too much stress on your heart. The cigarettes that controlled your mind and clogged your vessels. The money that produced such a greed in the doctors that they had you come back time and time again without every fixing you. The depression that took hold, and then, took you. The way that all of it added up, and was so simply recorded on paper - heart attack - nothing more, nothing less, except to those of us who knew better. I don’t want him to know that the world can hurt someone in a way that isn’t fixable with a kiss and a bandaid.

His heart got sick. So he died, and now he is in heaven. Like our very own angel. Isn’t that great? You have your very own angel looking out for you in heaven. I think that’s cool.

He stared at his food. Sipped his drink. Looked back at me.

Yeah. That IS cool.

He doesn’t need to know all of these things. Not yet. He can believe that dark clouds only mean he gets to play in the rain. He can believe that death only means he has his very own angel to watch over him. Truthfully, I hope he continues to believe these things, long after he finds out the rest of it. I hope that, when the world shows him the bad, he still believes in the beauty that remains.

We looked at your pictures a few weeks ago. He saw your face.

I really miss that guy, he said.

I don’t think he needed to meet you to know who you are.

To love you. To miss you.

He’s four years young.

But he knows enough.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Arms on either side.

You were just learning to walk, my grandmother told my mom. And your grandaddy, he would be so scared. He would put his arms on either side of you while you wobbled around. Never wanting you to get hurt. Always wanting to catch you should you fall.

She paused, and looked beyond my mother. She stared at something none of us could see. Maybe she was looking straight into the past, into a time none of us could remember excepting herself. I saw her give the slightest shrug.

But that’s just how you learn to walk, she said.

She might forget if she’s eighty-four or eight-five. She might forget what day of the week it is. She might even forget what she ate for breakfast.

But she’s a wise one, my grandmother.