Over the weekend, my family lost a very dear friend. Corinne was in her 90’s and had outlived most of her friends. One could even argue that it was her time to go. While she was not in any pain, she was uncomfortable and her quality of life was just not what it used to be. This once vibrant woman was reduced to a hospice bed and bland meals to live out her days.
To be loved by Corinne was indeed very special. She treated all children as her own and she loved my mother’s kids the same way. My brothers and I all have special memories of her and moments shared that meant so much. She was kind and loving and had a way of making each person around her feel so very important.
Corinne’s health had been failing the past few years and I had not seen her since I got married. I doubt she even knew my married name. So once I heard she had died, I wondered how she would know to look for Allie. Let me explain...
As Jews, we do not believe in Heaven or Hell. You live and then you die and that is that. As I understand it, the focus is on the life you lead, not what happens after. But as long as I can remember, I have believed in more than that. I believe that our loved ones are someplace together and looking out for those they left behind. I call it heaven, but it really could be any place, I suppose.
My mom's brother, Irv, passed away when he was just in his 40’s. The only way I could make sense of that as a young girl was to believe that he was somewhere good, somewhere happy, and able to see his family. Fast forward a few years to when my mother’s father passed away. I used to picture my uncle and his dad, my Pop Pop Louie, spending time together, laughing, enjoying each other and watching over us. I felt like they could see us and help us in some ways.
When Allie died, I felt immediately that she was with my Uncle Irv and my Pop Pop. There are others that I have lost over the years, but it’s my uncle and my Pop Pop that I feel the strongest connection to for some reason. Perhaps because I was so young when I lost them or perhaps because the love I felt from them was so powerful.
And then Corinne died. She is the first person who has died since Allie and so I am at a loss. I wanted to know that she would look after Allie, too, but how will she know her? Corinne only knew me by my maiden name so how would she know my daughter’s last name? And I know my mom told Corinne that I was pregnant and then told her that we lost the baby, but I am not sure how much she understood in the last months of her life.
Gary and I talked about this on our way into work this morning and we concluded that it’s your soul or almost your essence that goes to heaven. I see Allie as a little girl where he sees her almost as a grown woman (by the time we get there to see her again). So I hope that her soul does not need a last name or an id card and that the people that are meant to meet up will. Gary’s “Gramps” never even got to meet me and yet I sure as heck hope he knows to look for Allie and I know she will be so loved by him.
So that is my "heaven"...not sure how my religion would feel about it, but it's my faith that believes and it makes me feel better to do so.
Corinne, if indeed you are up there and can see us, it was an honor to know you and be loved by you. Thank you for all your love. And please tell our baby girl that we love her.