Thursday, August 9, 2007

Low-rent Theology

This morning, over breakfast (cantaloupe and sourdough toast for her, cottage cheese with incredible peaches for me):

Daughter: Mama, I think Papa is still at the doctor. (This is frequently her opening line when she wants to discuss him, death, and what it all means.)

Dorcasina: No, sweetie. You know Papa's not still at the doctor. You know that Papa died, and we don't ever get to see him again.

Daughter: Well, maybe he is in heaven!
Now, all the grief folks warned me NOT to tell her that Papa was "looking down" on her from heaven; they said that feeling of being watched by a dead person can be creepy...duh. So I've been pretty theologically noncommital about Papa's afterlife whereabouts, except that Snickollet and I just know that our husbands are hanging out together, and have probably hooked up with Badger's beloved Mr. Badger on occasion for some deeply existential talks, or to make farting armpit noises.

Dorcasina, tentatively: ....well, maybe. What is heaven?

Daughter, cheerfully matter of fact: It's a big room where he can talk to other died [sic] people. And maybe play with toys.

Dorcasina (thinks): Yeah, I bet he'd like that...

Dorcasina: Uh huh. Who told you about heaven?

Daughter: Mrs. Teacher Lady! She said my papa is in heaven! And that he is happy!
Mrs. Teacher Lady is my daughter's primary teacher--which in Montessori world means that they are about to start their third year together. She has been unfailingly loving, supportive, and thoughtful in helping both my daughter and me. She's very active in her church, and makes private references to her faith. So I'm actually really okay with her providing what to her probably feels like a very neutral bit of information. She definitely doesn't proselytize, but she does feel that her beliefs are a big part of her life, and she's made that pretty clear in private conversations. I don't share most of her beliefs, but I really like her and trust her to keep the details of her theology to herself. I have also talked to her about my own spiritual beliefs, so I can see why she thought this would be okay to say to my daughter. And she's right. It is okay. My liberal/academic/secular/knee-jerk self immediately wonders "is this appropriate?" But in this case, it's just fine.

Dorcasina: Well, he probably misses us very much. But we want him to be happy, even though we miss him. Maybe heaven is like a park, so he can go outside?

Daughter: Yes! With other died [sic] people. Mama, can I have another piece of toast?

I wish I had a video of this for those folks who want to really know what it's like to be a widow and a single mom.

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At 1:46 PM , Blogger Rev Dr Mom said...

Kids are amazing. Really.

At 1:48 PM , Blogger Julia said...

It is a good thing, I think, that she can talk like that. My daughter has not yet asked about where her brother is now. I am personally not exactly comfortable with the word "heaven," so this might be interesting when it comes. We do strive for talking about the feelings when they come, though, and for being comfortable enough with them to ask for more foodstuffs in the same conversation.

At 6:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, how amazing the insight of a kid, it's great I think that you all have these chats, and I love the idea of great big park with toys and lots of fun things to do, a wonderful visual.

At 8:12 PM , Blogger Yankee T said...

I love her.

At 11:24 PM , Anonymous Dorcasina said...

yankee t,
me too! ;)

At 12:07 PM , Blogger OTRgirl said...

I love that conversation. I also enjoyed the vivid image you created when you described her fancy outfit.

At 11:55 AM , Blogger Portia said...

i love this post. actually, i'm here to come clean about loving all of your posts, even though i've only commented twice before. i am terribly shy, and feel a bit like the pauper in the palace over here. this may seem odd since you haven't heard much from me, but in light of the fact that i find your blog quite inspirational, i have mentioned you in today's posting on my blog, along with an award. this is certainly not to obligate you to do a meme, just to let you know that you inspire more people than you know with your words, and how.

At 7:45 AM , Blogger Dorcasina said...

Welcome, and thank you! I'm deeply honored and flattered. I tend to think of myself as more "enduring" than "inspirational," so I am especially touched by your words, and my award! Nice to meet you, and please stop by often. It's nice to have another 'virtual' friend. And I'm delighted to have another blog to check out. As my virtual responders here could tell you, I am not much of a commenter on their blogs--just a lurker, and a grateful one at that.

At 7:43 AM , Blogger Portia said...

well, i must say i'm relieved. i'd like to go ahead and add you to my bogroll. thanks for the welcome:)


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