Leon and I have always felt drastically differently about Naomi’s grave. Very quickly after her funeral he told me that he knew that she is not there; she is in heaven. But it’s not that simple for me.
I tried explaining that to Naomi yesterday while I stood in the cold staring at her picture on the stone. “Hi Na; I’m sorry I haven’t been here for a few days; dad and I have been pretty sick.” I told her. “I know you don’t really mind, but I do”. Dad says you aren’t really here, but the thing is, I know your body is. I can still see the outline of the new grass, reminding me of that day that they lowered you into the ground. It’s not that daddy doesn’t care as much as I do, you know he does. It’s just that for a mom it’s different. It’s not just about your soul for me, it’s also about the body that I carried underneath my heart for 9 months; the one that I rocked for hours at a time when you were sick. I stand here in this place, knowing that just a few feet below me are those little fingers that curled around mine, and the eyelashes that would give me butterfly kisses every night before bed. I wish so desperately that I could kiss the bridge of your nose again or braid your hair. Of course I know daddy is right, that your soul is happy and healthy in heaven running with the other children whose parents are also missing them. But that doesn’t make me miss you less. I want you here.”
I didn’t even realize how long I had been talking, trying to explain to my daughter how much I need to be near her and why. I knelt down and picked a few of the leaves off the pumpkin display I had created for her, and just as a began to stand, a tiny yellow leaf blew across the lawn and landed on my jacket. I looked down and smiled; “yellow: your favorite color, thanks Na, it’s like a little hug from you”.
The words were barely out of my mouth when a much larger wind gust came out of no where; it was so strong that it caused the lapel of my jacket to thump against my chest as if someone had just run into me. I closed my eyes and opened my mind to the tricks that it was playing on me. I wrapped my arms around myself and squeezed. “I can almost feel you hugging me”. “But is it possible? Could God allow it? Would God allow it? Why not, I had just read the verse: The whole earth is the Lords, and all that is in it. Whose to say, but God Himself?”
I opened my eyes for a second, and realized that I didn’t care if it was real, I was willing to be a fool and pretend that I could feel the impression of my 9 year old daughters body pressed against mine, that for the first time I was able to feel her height, getting close to matching mine, that I could feel her arms around my back and her head under my chin. So I closed them again, and allowed myself to stay in the celestial place where a mothers longing translates into her passionate reality, and for the first time in 15 months our bodies were connected at the heart.