continuation of a story found in the above link….
The little girl had given it a lot of thought, the mystery of death, that is. When she was younger she had attended her grandfather’s funeral, sitting next to her aunt in the front of the church. The atmosphere was different from anything else she had experienced in all her three year long life. She had experienced sadness before, but this time all the adults seemed different. She didn’t know how to respond ” well, she never really knew how to respond. She observed her aunt as she was leaning forward, as if having a stomach ache, with tears streaming from her eyes. Sound and noises the little girl had previously only heard from little children or people with a severe cold. The little girl had experienced many colds and stomach aches, and she felt sorry for her aunt – she did not look comfortable. Sitting upright, a bit stiff, the little girl hesitantly reached towards her aunt’s trembling hand. Her aunt squeezed it gently and went into an even more advanced way of showing discomfort. Her body was shaking, she sounded like she couldn’t breathe. The little girl looked nervously about scanning the room for any reactions. Nothing. Okay, no need for alarm. The little girl believed in authority, she was quite willing to do her part, but she trusted in the judgement of adults. The little girl felt rather uncomfortable – more than usual, when confronted with awkward social situation in which she had not fully decoded the conventions of the specific scenario. She did not mean to be overly dramatic, but this was by far the most awkward situation she had ever encountered. As her aunt clutched her little hand, the little girl was unsure of what was expected of her. Hesitantly, she placed the other hand on top of her aunt’s. A bit tense, she peered from the corner of her eyes, unsure of the reaction. Her aunt looked down at her lovingly and gratefully. The little girl mechanically responded with a well intended, though indecisive smile.
Since then she had lived to see her grandmother follow suit. She remembered loving her as a little girl. Though for the past years her grandmother had been ill and said things that didn’t make sense. Even her parents said so. The little girl, though not willing to admit, found her grandmother a bit scary. She had finally learned to interact in social encounters without being met with that face. The face, in which the mouth slightly opened, the eyes opened wide, blankly staring at her for a few seconds. Then eventually they would shut their mouths, their eyes would flicker for a second while an almost invisible shiver travelled through their face before ending the conversation and moving on. This ritual had been a daily occurrence in her 5 year long life. She knew that it was because of her, but she did not exactly know why. Her grandmother was different. With others she had discovered a pattern or a semblance of one at least. Her grandmother acted differently. The little girl, for all her efforts in understanding the expectations of her in different social encounters, did not understand what was expected of her here. Her grandmother would say things that did not make sense; she would grab hold of the little girl and hug her. The little girl did not like being hugged, at least not by strangers. Her grandmother seemed strange, like a stranger.
When she died, the little girl’s mother cried. The little girl gave her mother a long hug, as she had observed was the thing to do. She did not go to such length every time someone cried. Though if not now that someone had died, she reckoned, then there would never be a good time to do so. She did it for her mother. She loved her mother. At first she was surprised, at her mother crying. Not because she had not seen it before. But her father had entered the room first, he was not crying. It was the little girl’s father who had lost his mother ” and he didn’t cry… Should she hug her father as well? She loved her father too. Her father was not a man of many words and did not express himself in terms of any visible fluctuations in mood or feeling. Yet she always sensed some kind of sadness in him that she desperately wished she could protect him from. She was sad for her parents. She imagined that she would be very sad if any of them should die.
The little girl was curious to know, what death meant, not for the ones’ left behind, but for the people who died. Whenever she brought up such topics, people tended to agree that people go to a place called Heaven, when they die. God was usually an important addition to the creation of Heaven. Though now and again she would meet someone who did not know, what would happen or who would claim that there was more than one god. They were all reasonable adults that she respected as an authority, yet their statements about death and life – or creation as some would call it – were so contradictory. It occurred to the little girl that there were things that were not just a mystery to her.
As it dawned on her that adults did not have the answer to such an important issue, she was overwhelmed by a sense of duty, a responsibility to figure out the answer to such a question. While she made sure that she did her homework and met all her other obligations; such as talking to people, saying the right things, listen, playing well with other children, give comfort and being comforted by adults (should they deem it necessary); she spent most of her time thinking. She would lie in her bed and just think about the worlds big questions, philosophize and sometimes dream. In between her social obligations and seeking an answer that was satisfactory to issues such as death and life, she was trying to solve another riddle. Sometimes she imagined herself to be a changeling. It was a quite reasonable hypothesis, she deemed. She felt strange and awkwardly out of place. While she knew her imagination was vivid and strong, she felt strongly about her being something different from other people. She did not believe in aliens ” that was just silly! Only silly people would believe in that ” and she was not silly! She knew that it was not very nice to think of others as silly, but privately she did judge such people – just a little bit.
Mai L. Nissen, 25th of February 2015