Later, after we have finished with the reception the family heads out to Tania’s where she has a large back yard. There the children run around, play tag, swing. Under a tree Andrielle, Diana’s second oldest grandchild finds a dead bird. Julian, her oldest grandson, only 4, brings it into the house in a shovel to show the grown-ups. He is weeping; so sensitive he is. “The bird is dead,” he cries out.
“We will go and bury it in the back yard,” his grandfather tells him.
The children gather around as Julian digs a grave and buries the bird in it. My sister, in keeping with her generous nature, has given her body to science so there was no burial of her body. I can’t help but believe that this burial of the bird is a symbol of her own burial. A way for the children to understand that she is gone and will not return. That Julian’s weeping is not only for the death of the bird but for the loss of his Nanie. That all this is the gentle workings of the mysteries of death.
Later, when Julian is in his new space ship pajamas he sits next to me and brings me a pile of art work he has done. “You can have them all,” he tells me. So generous. I tell him that I don’t want to be greedy. That I will take only one. The one I choose is a self-portrait of himself. “I tried to make my ear but I couldn’t,” he said.
“But you were able to make a big smile,” I say.
“You like it when there a lot of people at your house, don’t you.”
“Let me count them all,” he does so with precision…”One two, eight..ten…fifteen, nineteen…but not Nanie. She’s dead.”