before and after

4_30_10.JPGMy three year old nephew, Gabe, told my sister, "Uncle Jeff died, but he still has his imagination."
I love this idea. The belief that 'his imagination' or mind is still intact brings me huge relief and comfort.

What I find interesting is that I am completely willing to believe this to be true. I know that some of my willingness comes from the need to believe that Jeff is still with me and the other comes from the somehow inexplicable belief that our society or maybe species has that children and the dying have some inherent knowledge that is lost to the rest of us while in adulthood and good health.

Why is this? We only humour our little ones when they tell us that elephants also come decorated in green polkadots aside from the standard issue 'pachyderm grey'. We smile patronizingly when a patient in hospice swears that they will go on a vacation to Disneyland before they pass.

But if a member of either of these two groups tells us something of life 'before' or 'after', we are apt to stare hopefully and relay these messages on to all who will listen. We claim that it is because they are closer to the 'before' and 'after'....But I worry that this is part of the fairytale we tell ourselves.

I do often think of the things that Jeff said to me the night before he died. I know he was feeling ill and he was the classic stereotype of a sick guy making him feel crabby and sad. But some of the things he said, although painful and sad, they also give me 'hope' of sorts, that he knew something I didn't....

So, I will cling to my hope that Jeff still retains his imagination and hang off the words of little ones and those whose bodies are beginning to fail to house their soul....Even if it is a silly belief, it brings me comfort to believe he is with us, holding me when I cry, encouraging me and smiling at his little ones.

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