Point of View: Equals Infinity

The kids’ reactions have been striking

   We are in flux. Though we’d love to hold on to those whom we love, it can’t be done. That much of them lives on in us is the most we can hope for. The body is gone, though the spirit, to the extent that it was transmitted to us and to the extent that we received it, remains, and, in the end, it is only the spirit that is real, I think; as real as the grass, the trees, the rocks, the hills, and the sea.
    “It comes in waves,” Mary said of her mourning in the days following the death of her mother, as apt an allusion as can be imagined. The waves are high-pitched, though, frankly, I told her, I thought it would be worse, that when the time came she would slump to the floor in grief. “Well, I am on the floor,” she said, “inside.”
    Meanwhile, she has been working at living. There are duties with which her mother entrusted her that she must carry out. These take up quite a bit of her time. And then there is work itself, which I’ve found in such times to be a blessing. And then there is the family, the older, younger, and youngest generations.
    “How’s she doing?” Kathy, who each week recreates our newspaper, asked.
    “She’s carrying on, better than I thought she would,” I said.
    “We’ve got no choice,” Kathy said sympathetically.
    The kids’ reactions have been striking. Our daughter Emily’s 6-year-old son, Jack, said, when told, “Grandma equals Infinity.”
    I remember Emily, at just about the same age, saying, when I told her that her grandfather, my father, had died, “I feel like a broken umbrella.”
    And Ella, our daughter Georgie’s 4-year-old daughter, said to Mary as they went into her bedroom one recent night, “Nana’s in the stars now. . . . Come, let’s look!”