And I picked her up this morning, her small and compact body. She is at 4, perhaps too large to be held, and perhaps this is what she knows of death, that people pick her up and hold her very tightly.
I came in with a gaily striped bag, and she looked at me and sat on the stairs, her pink and orange and purple sundress billowing around her. And she looked at me, and she said "Is that a present?" They coy smile of a 4 year old that was the coy smile of a friend. A smile I saw when I went and bought Gerber Daisies for the two of us, and signed the card with something rude. The smile of a million comments, a hundred million shared glances.
I knelt down, looked at her and said "Why yes. It's a present for a little blond girl. Do you know any?"
She happily proclaimed that that was her. She dove in. I handed her the Pooh-Bear first, an old friend of mine, who wanted to come and live with her. She examined the books, and the toy and the graham crackers and the juice. Showing everything, before vanishing into the living room with the cat toy. Her father and I packed up the rest.
How does one tell a 4 year old that her mother is gone, and yet not. How does one tell a wee little girl that her mother is gone to a place that we cannot go, not yet, but that she lives and breathes in Emma? How does one tell a little girl that her mother is gone from this world, and yet remains within every fiber of Emma's being?
How does one tell a tiny child that all beautiful things live in memory, and that Anna, that my friend, lives in memory?
I saw the photo's at the memorial service, and I knew that I was looking at Anna, but I could see Emma in them. Peas in a pod. Like mother, like daughter.
And how does one say good-bye, proclaim that Anna is gone, when Emma comes sailing in?
She come sailing on the wind, her wings flashing in the sun,
On a journey just begun, she flies on, and in the passage of her flight,
Her song rings out through the night, full of laughter, full of light, she flies on.