Julia is a naturally inquisitive child, like most five year olds I’d think, whose litany of questions and thoughts run like a James Joycean stream of consciousness monologue emitting from the backseat of my SUV. “I think that rabbits and bunnies are not the same thing because a rabbit is bigger and the white rabbit that lived at my school…what was his name? Of yeah, Snowball. He had to live at a farm now and I’m sad because I liked him best of the two bunnies at my school because Midnight is kind of dark-ish, black-ish and Snowball had pink eyes and I like pink…” and the like are often heard and I mutter half-thought, “Yeah?” and “Uh huh?” because it does not really matter if I’m listening because it is the “Julia Show” and the size of the audience is not her concern. She is often talking to just hear her own small sweet voice but once in a while my attention needs to be directed toward her thoughts.
Yesterday after a busy morning of Vacation Bible School Julia and I ate a “Ladies Lunch” at Five Guys of hot dogs and hamburgers. After a couple of bites Julia placed her hot dog on the shiny aluminum and came across the table placing her small hand on my arm and quietly saying, “I want to tell you something, but not hurt your feelings.” Usually that comment from Julia is followed by concern over how my frilly top does not look good with my plain blue jeans or that I *might* need to brush my teeth in the morning. But yesterday afternoon as she laid her hand on my arm her eyes were dark and serious. “Mommy, I cannot decide if I should stay living to be with you or die so I can see Daddy. Which one should I do?” Such a conundrum to be facing at such a young age and it made the Coke I was drinking bitter in my mouth. Her frank honesty at the quandary she faced did not surprise me as I know her soul to be deep and mature beyond her years; an “old soul.” I explained that I thought she should keep living here on Earth because Daddy would want that for her and for those that we love and he delights in seeing her from Heaven and that he is with her, in her heart, as she goes about her day. She looked at me and said quietly, “I just want to see his face.” My heart broke because I too struggle with that impossibility. I just want to touch Wesley’s cool skin, look into his kind dark eyes, hear his sweet laugh and knowing that he can see me, but I cannot have that same ability, can cut deep. I do not want to die, but do pray for Wesley to visit me in my dreams which is the closest I can come to being with him. I find the desire to be close almost visceral looking for any sign that I can that he is with me. A bird that lands near me as I’m deep on thought, a light that mysteriously goes out. A sign.
I have not had the blinding neon sign of illumination but I do have flickers in which I strive to find meaning. Julia often commandeers my iPhone to watch videos as wide ranging as cooking shows to princess games. Right now she is fascinated by Helen Keller so a video of Keller speaking amazes her and we act out scenes from The Miracle Worker in her bedroom. An old soul…I tell you. Julia questions Siri about “What is the last number in the world?” and “Can a cat wear a t-shirt?” often feeling her answers are insufficient as Siri suggested that she can search the web for those answers. Julia thinks Siri is the great voice that knows all and can find all on the world wide web, but sometimes even her questions stump the Apple voice. She will ask, “How do I talk to my Daddy in Heaven?” or “Is my Daddy happy with Jesus?” and typically Siri suggests in her monotone voice, “I didn’t find anything for ‘Is my Daddy happy in Heaven?” leaving Julia frustrated and angry at the dead end. The lack of answers to her endless knowledge seeking.
Over the weekend Julia had pilfered my technology again and as her eyes shone against the bright screen, I heard the familiar *beep beep* noise of Siri being summoned. Julia began firing questions at the electronic voice asking her about Heaven and Daddy and how big monkeys are in England? Because you know, Monkeys are pretty common in London. I was half listening as I stirred our stir fry on the stove pausing to hear Julia say, “Does Daddy watch me from Heaven and see me playing with my baby dolls?” and Siri said, “Yes” Julia looked widely at me and said, “He does. He really does…” I’m not sure what Siri heard Julia say or if it is a sign from Wesley but I know what we heard and we hold on to those three letters, that shred of hope. That Yes.