Grandpa is dead; at least that’s what Mama told me. We just saw him on Saturday at his apartment. He gave me a handful of M&M’s from his secret hiding place – the drawer of his bedside table. I like the red ones the best and Grandpa always saves them for me. I wonder who will give me red M&M’s now.
I know all about death. My goldfish died last winter, and Daddy flushed it down the toilet. Then in the summer, my puppy got hit by a car. I cried a lot longer for my puppy than I did for Goldie. Dead is forever. That must be why Mama’s so sad.
Grandpa once told me that he was looking forward to dying. He said that when he died, he would go to heaven and live with Jesus and Grandma. Grandpa told me all about heaven. He said that the streets are paved with real gold – not like the ring that turns my finger green – and there are gates made out of pearls. Mama has a pearl necklace that she wears when Daddy takes her out to dinner. I think heaven sounds like a wonderful place.
Daddy says we’re going somewhere to see Grandpa. How can we see Grandpa when he’s in heaven? Maybe they have Skype in heaven, and we can talk to Grandpa like we do Aunt Lydia and Uncle Jim. I wonder if we can talk to Grandma and Jesus too.
Mama takes my hand and walks with me toward a building. I’ve never been here before. Mama says I have to be on my best behavior. That means I have to walk, use my indoor voice, and be polite. I hope we don’t have to stay long. This place smells funny – kinda like Great Aunt Ethel’s house. I wrinkle my nose, but Mama gives me The Look when I start to complain.
We are standing in a big room. There are a lot of people here. Near the front I see a long wooden box, with lots of flowers around it. Aunt Lydia, Uncle Jim and my cousins standing there too. What are they doing outside of the computer? I want to run to them and play, but Mama keeps a tight hold on my hand.
Everyone is dressed up for church, but my teacher said it’s Tuesday. I want to ask Daddy about it, but he tells me to shush. I wonder if we have to wait in line to talk to Grandpa. I hate waiting in line. Yesterday, I had to wait in line for a drink at the water fountain, and Randy Cassidy kept pushing me. I don’t like Randy Cassidy.
Finally, we make it to the front of the room. Aunt Lydia hugs Daddy and Mama, and then she squeezes me tight. I can hardly breathe. When she lets me go, Daddy picks me up. Now I can see in the box. Grandpa’s sleeping in there. What a funny place to sleep. I say so to Daddy.
“Oh Pumpkin,” Daddy says, “Grandpa’s not sleeping. Remember, Grandpa’s in heaven with Grandma and Jesus.” This makes Mama cry again.
“But he’s not in heaven.” I say. “I can see him right there.” I point to the box.
“Grandpa’s body is still here, but the real part of Grandpa - the part that lived inside the body - is in heaven with Jesus.”
Daddy’s words swirl around in my head, like clothes in the dryer. Are there really two parts to people? The part you can see, and the part you can’t see? Is there really a me inside of me?
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