Last night, out of the clear, blue sky – as if there were such a thing – my daughter said to me, “So… your dad’s invisible, right?” I wasn’t sure how to respond. My dad died three years ago but for much of my life he was, essentially, invisible. But she wasn’t speaking figuratively – She’s 4. I told her that my dad is not alive anymore and that many believe that people who are not alive anymore go to a beautiful place called Heaven. I said that those people could think about us and that we could think about them but that we could not see or speak with one another in the same way that she and I see and speak with one another. I told her that we could still think about and love one another. What I didn’t tell her is that I really don’t know what I believe happens to us after we die. (How could I tell her that?) She said that I should paint a picture of my dad and hang it on the wall so that I can see him while I’m thinking about him. I told her that this was a fabulous idea. And then she said, ‘Which one of us will be invisible first, me or you?” I told her that it would probably be me. I tried to make this sound, in some way, light and cheery. She played along for a few seconds and then burst into tears. She sobbed and sobbed and, between sobs, said, “I just feel like I need to cry about that!!” While I held and rocked her (and tried not to lose my mind because of the sadness of it all) I remembered the first time I learned that my mom would, someday, die. I remember feeling that I would never be able to carry on – that life could never again be normal.
I was a child who had a healthy fear of strangers (thanks in part to the man who tried to coax my sister and I off of a city bus and to his home) and an unhealthy fear of impending war (thanks in part to being born in 1975 and also in part to the song, “Russians.” Thanks a lot, Sting.). I was afraid of loud noises, unusual weather, darkness… But mostly, I was afraid of being apart from my mom. I knew that one day Averi would start to understand that living is not a permanent state, but I was hoping that I had a few more years before she would start to ask questions. Who was I kidding? Last month she was waiting for her new baby sister, her “Halloween Surprise.” This month she’s saying that she’d really like to have a baby brother or sister…someday.
Fuck you, life.