Rarely do I find myself to be superstitious, to believe in superstition. But when it comes to death, I find myself highly suspect to never again put myself in a position of challenging whether or not superstition can play a part in it.
And so in these last few weeks before I turn 43, before I become older than my father ever had a chance to be, I find myself not walking past black cats, never walking under a ladder, tossing salt over my shoulder. I find myself holding my breath.
Was Grace's death my punishment for thoughts and feelings from long ago? I know on a conscious level of course, that kind of thinking can be the undoing of me. That kind of thinking is counterproductive and counter to all things that I believe. But... Still... Nonetheless...
Did you ever find yourself playing hooky from school or work? Calling in sick one day just because you could. But then somehow, mysteriously, one or two days later, you actually become sick? It's happened to me on more than one occasion. Certainly then, the thought flicked across my brain: Is this then my punishment?
I don't pretend to be an expert on theology, but I grew up in a home where theology seemed pretty black and white, right and wrong. The trouble with that kind of theology is that the answers are often too clear in times where murkiness begs to be seen, where black and white becomes lines of polarization.
Where do our superstitious come from because part of me does still believe in fairies. Part of me does believe when those words are spoken out loud, "I don't believe in fairies," one indeed will drop dead.
Early in my pregnancy with Grace, I felt a divine kind of presence, a real kind of faith in the fact weeks before it could even be confirmed. And with that divine confidence, I walked around playing with fire. I walked around convinced that this was a pregnancy that was meant to be, that this was a pregnancy for which I could by pass most testing, most routine checks, most standard procedures because I had the certainty that everything was going to be just fine. I was certain that no fairies, thank you very much, would be dropping dead on me.
And still, still, there is another part of me that will tell you there was a tugging all along. That there was a voice far behind the recesses of my mind preparing me for the worst. Don't nest too much. Don't freeze too many casseroles. Don't buy too many baby items. And I listened to that voice and I didn't buy anything. I didn't freeze anything. I didn't prepare anything.
But I did call in sick even when I wasn't. I tested the waters. I ate a few slices of unpasteurized cheese. I even drank an occasional glass of red wine. I felt pretty invincible until the unspeakable actually happened, until I tried to take it all back. Until I saw the eyes of the technician when she looked away.
Just tell me my father was dying. That's all I want. I want the truth of the situation when it was happening. I don't want the faith in miracles, the faith in sparing what can't be spared. Just leave me a note, write me a letter and tell me you won't be at my wedding. Tell me you won't live to see your grandchildren. Tell me you won't live to see me turn 43 let alone your own self.
Just call death what it is and don't sugar-coat it with other statements.
I don't know if fairies really fall down dead or not, but I sure as hell know people do: parents do, children do. And don't pretend anything else because the murkiness in all of that? That kind of murkiness creates the most confusion, the most havoc that can stick around for a long, long time.
I do still believe in fairies. I have to. Because if I remove the rabbit hole, if I take away the fairy rings, if I give up believing in magic then everything else at times can seem pretty hopeless. Faith exists without seeing. Hope exists because faith is present, because the magic and wonder of the world holds so much potential. And if believing in fairies provides even one child with a magical moment, who I am to be the one to take that away. Who I am to challenge that which cannot be seen?