“Can you come into my bed for a second, Daddy?” Cayde asks, “Or Mommy. I want to talk about Grandma Carole.”
Mommy may have been the better choice since Grandma Carole in Heaven is Jenn’s mom, departed; but the opposite could be true in that my eyes would be less wet, my voice less quavering, in talking about her.
I was there when Carole passed. I at least knew her and Cayden’s bothered because he didn’t.
“What I want, Daddy,” and he pauses, “Wherever Grandma Carole lives, I hope she eats something with sprinkles, like magic sprinkles, and that she winds up standing alive on top of her grave.” He pauses again.
“Well she doesn’t have to be where she’s buried,” he continues, imagining this as he goes along, “But she gets to come walking through the door while I’m watching TV or something, and then I get to meet her for the first time.”
“I bet she was really smart,” he muses. “Her brain was too big, why it probably didn’t fit
in her head.”
I tear up, don’t undermine his logic. The surgery hadn’t worked, but he didn’t need to know all that. Not about the bandages that failed to keep her grey matter in place.
“The heart’s supposed to be as big as your fist. I bet hers filled her whole chest.”
“Yeah, Cayde. It did.”
I look at him.
“You look like her a bit, you know. You look a little like me, a little like your mom. Finn looks like me.” It’s good to let him know Carole exists, and in him.
“Now Uncle Timmy, he looks like…”
“Yeah, Cayde, Uncle Chris, but Chris looks more like Baba. Timmy and your Mom look a bit more like Grandma Carole,” I explain. “We all look like each other. We’re family.
“Listen, Kid—you know how some women wear headscarves? Dresses to hide their faces?”
“Yeah—like Indian women?”
I don’t want to get into any Cultural Studies–it’s not the point.
“Well, something like that. Anyway, I met this mom and dad once—their kids, too—and she was wearing this headscarf and I couldn’t see her face, but I looked at her and her husband, then her kids and I kinduv knew what she looked like though I couldn’t exactly see her.”
“Not supposed to see her,” I correct. I hope he doesn’t ask why not. All not the point.
“How’d you know?”
“Because. Family looks like each other. And YOU look a bit like Grandma Carole. I remember what she looks like when I see your nose, or Mom’s nose. I can close my eyes and still see her. Momma has her cheeks, so does Uncle Timmy. It’s how I remember Grandma Carole.”
I worry about my analogy, but Cayde seems satisfied and I know he’s following as best possible.
“I wish she was still here.”
“We all do, Friend. It’s ok. You can have those thoughts.” I pat him on the leg and kiss his head.
“Not sure about magic sprinkles, though. We can look at pictures in the morning, at least.
“You, ok, Kid?”
He pulls bedsheets over his shoulder in response and buries into the pillow.
“I’m ok, Daddy. Love you.”
I linger before turning out the light, before the moment comes when it’s dark and I can’t see his face and when, lastly, it’s just the white of the bed sheet as he goes to sleep.