Without pause, I get out of bed. (This is just horrible. I must have done something. What did I do to deserve this?) It isn't until the next day that I realize this is truly the first time I have ever heard Audrey scream out for you. It is different from her routine, "Appa died, " Or "Sarah misses her appa." My heart breaks then. On this dark night, it shatters.
Entering her room, I find her standing in her crib opening the small curtain that looks out into the living room screaming those same words over and over, "I want to play with Appa now!"
(What have I done in some past life...what did I do to deserve this kind of pain) I pick her up and try to calm her, carrying her with me back to my bed. There are tears streaming down her face. In my bed she calms a little bit but is talkative, "Appa ...disappeared...heaven..." These are the words I hear at 3:30 am on a Friday night. (This is the lowest point, I am at my lowest point.) Finally she lays down beside me. But it seems we both lay there for a long time, eyes open, unable to sleep. Twenty minutes later, she is sitting straight up again saying those words, "Appa, disappeared, he went to heaven." "I know," I tell her, "I'm so sorry Audrey- I'm so sorry."
Eventually, we sleep.
In the morning, we wake up, she goes potty, we eat breakfast, the usual thing. Later while I'm picking out her clothes, I ask her if she remembers her dream about appa. We talk about her dreams quite often so she has a context for the word. One night she awoke screaming that she dropped her lollipop, another- she wanted her umbrella-another, she needed ice cream. These are the dreams of a two year old apparently. And in the morning, I usually ask her if she remembers and tell her what she was saying. She laughs about the dream and later we all laugh as we tell grandma and grandpa. She acknowledges them as dreams and even her imaginary friends she calls, "My imaginary friends."
This morning, she looks pensive for a moment and then as if she suddenly remembers with excitement says, "No, that wasn't a dream! That was real. Appa really appeared. He appeared. He was alive. He came to read to me and play with me."
I realize that the previous night when she was saying he appeared, I just assumed she meant disappeared. Sometimes in the light of a new morning, everything has a slightly different context.
I am a skeptic these days. Even in the context of belief and theology, I don't think it'd even make sense for a "visit," but nonetheless, tears stream down my face as she goes on, without any prodding from me. "He came to read to me and play with me. He came back from heaven." She seems delighted. So when I heard her talking about heaven while I was half asleep she wasn't confirming that he'd gone to heaven but that he'd come back.
3 am is a time of wakefulness in the sleep cycle. This would explain it. Her unconscious mind is revealing some of what she's felt and buried there. This is profoundly sad to me.
And yet...and yet, there is a brightness about the way she speaks of this- not her typical, look around and search for ideas toddler talk, "I need something...um, I need a tiny sip of water!" It's not thought out, but just told. And theology and science aside, no one knows if we live, where we go, or what is possible. I do know that this sounds like you- I've thought it so many times since you left us, "If he was still anywhere in existence, I don't care how great the separation, he just wouldn't be able to stay away from her."
I am curious. I ask her if he said anything to her.
Without hesitation, she tells me, "Yes, he said, 'I promise I will come back again.' "
I do not prod any further. I won't try to extract questions with answers that I would wish to believe. I leave it at this.