Friday, March 27, 2015

Whispering to Ghosts

Sometimes early in the morning, my boy will wake up calm. He usually is far from calm, screaming and raddling his crib like a caged animal. But every so often he gently pulls his consciousness from sleeping to awake. During these rare occurrences, instead of crying out, he will start the day talking to himself. At eighteen months old, what he chooses to say is very interesting. Alone in his crib, he will list off a litany of the names of people he has met: Mommy, Daddy, Baba, Nana, Grandma, Grandpa, Shannon, Zack, Angela, Hope, Abbie, Max, Elmo, Ernie. Each day this list grows, and as every new person is added the list just gets longer. So far, nobody has dropped off. Lying in bed, while part of me just wishes he would just shut up so I could grab another minute or two of rest, I wonder why he does it. Why would a child, to whom the entire world is new and exciting, spend his time thinking about second cousins once removed who he met for a couple of minutes at a Bar-Be-Que? Some people will tell you children are born innocent. They are not, or at least my son wasn’t. But he is unsullied and uninfected with the cares and desires of this world. He has yet to be confined by societal pressures, or the dreams and cares of others. What he thinks about is his own, and what he chooses to think about is the people in his life. With the entire world stripped away, what matters most to the boy when he first wakes up, is the people in his life. In naming them, he somehow calls them back to himself. His tiny little bedroom is filled with memories of all his buddies. I might not say their names, but I have found myself doing the same thing with people who have long since went to the grave, people who made an impression in my heart and stamped themselves upon my soul through the alchemy of connection. I might not call out a litany of names like the boy, but even whispers in the spirit call them back. I miss them some times, Mary’s whit, Joe’s heart, Fran’s wisdom. Once and awhile I think we need to bring them back, to give the dead a place before our minds once more, to breathe life into the dry bones, and from that draw the strength continue to care for those still alive.
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