I have this assignment to discuss what I learned this summer. What I learned (or relearned) is life is bittersweet. Today is the appropriate day to write of it for it is September 5th and September 5th is a bittersweet day. The day had no reason whatsoever to be that way when it first assumed its form. That was 1986 and I was 250 miles away from the public hospital where Marina was born.
I always think of Marina in relation to this time of year. It is still warm, but the sunset falls early enough that children may be outside at that wonderful time of day called the golden hour. It is a time of year for fairs and cotton candy and the beating back of the inevitable winter and Marina was all about these things never to be brought in without one of her dolls needing a good washing or having to have her face scrubbed of ice cream. Her life was a fairy tale as was mine. Life was sweet.
Then the inevitable bitterness came. For a while medicine allowed some type of recovery and life to some extent was again a fairy tale, but the writing was on the wall. We do not get to hold one another forever in this life and though we make a home in the world for a little while, home is ultimately a much bigger place than the little corner we call earth.
On January 5th 1994, Marina left. I went home and read. There were words somewhere about angels rejoicing on the saddest days of men and if there were angels I thought I could not forgive them this. I could forgive them on account of their joy of Marina joining their number for she belonged in heaven. I could forgive them too that they rejoiced in my sadness for their joy would be of my reunion with her one day. What I found hard to forgive was much bigger.
On a cold night on Hoyne Avenue, I stood with my son looking for a comet. In the middle of a teaching moment about great collections of ice blazing through space, he equates the stars with angels and ask if Marina was one of these. There are times a parent stumbles for an explanation, but has to recover quickly. I said Marina now lived with God and God allowed Marina to be with us for a little while because he loved us and because God loved her so much he wanted her to live with him. It was then I forgave the rejoicing of the angels for in my hubris I thought I could love Marina as much as God does. Of course not I or anyone can love as God does, though in time we will. Marina knows what this is now. She knows the love of God in a way we do not yet know and even how to love as God loves. Perhaps she now asks Him that we too may know this.
As a postscript from that night I have to add my son asked if Marina made it rain. I said no explaining if she were charged with that responsibility it would be a big gaffe on heaven’s part and we would never see rain. But it is September 5th and the skies have cleared over the city….it would surprise me none at all if during the golden hour she were permitted to paint the horizon of the earth.
Image: Marina with her brother at her grandparents’ home in Marion County Ohio where she spent many a golden hour and summer day.