The first time I remember Knowing
The earliest I recall having been in touch with someone beyond flesh was when I was still a toddler. I think I was about two, perhaps three years old.
There were lovely people who lived in the house next door to my home. They were elderly folks. Though we shared no blood relations, I called the Opa and Oma (grandmother and grandfather, in German).
They were nice folks who had welcomed my company as often as I showed up at their door. They allowed me to visit any time I wanted to do so and always spoke with me as if my words mattered. They had different rules than those learned in my home. At home some of the phrases I often heard included, “children should be seen and not heard,” and “children should only speak when they are spoken to.”
At Oma and Opa’s house though, I was welcome to be conversational. We were friends and they smiled whenever we chatted together. They gave me the impression that my words were valuable. I loved these people.
Opa died, as we all do, and I was aware of his homegoing. Others in my family offered their own version of supportive presence by sitting alongside Oma, touching her gently and crying along with her.
I found it dull to be so sad. It made no sense to me. I had an innate understanding that all was well and I said so, plain as could be, “Don’t cry Oma. Opa doesn’t hurt anymore.” And you know, the woman heard me. She knew I was on point. She dried her tears and she validated my knowings. She loved her husband, dearly, but she also knew he had been quite uncomfortable his last days (perhaps longer). Remembering his ease was what she needed. My words were a catalyst to her grace in saying goodbye.
I took it in stride, went about playing with my toys at Oma’s feet while the adults who accompanied me downplayed my words.
Oma though, she shifted. She knew and I knew too that Opa’s release was just a transition and that his ease was more valuable than his flesh.
It was years before anyone validated my understandings in these ways again but Oma and Opa, saw me for who I was and they helped me become more capable in my work before I even realized it. I am grateful.