When my son was three or four, and even now, he was, and is, passionate about sea otters. All he wanted for Christmas was an otter to come live with him. In his stocking Christmas morning was a letter from A.T.O.O.T.W, also known as “All the Otters of the World” saying they couldn’t come live with him, and he couldn’t come live with them, but he could always visit, and they gave their locations. All of this was cleverly composed in rhyme, a cadence like The Night Before Christmas, though perhaps not as crisp because otters live in waves and so writing and thoughts go up and down.
I was reminded of this when I read a story this morning of Franz Kakfa who met a little girl in the park who was crying because she lost her doll. He wrote letters where the doll explained she was exploring and seeing the world.
The girl was comforted, but when Kafka needed to leave, he gave her a doll. The girl pointed out the doll looked different. She wasn’t the same. He responded that we are changed by travel, and we may lose what we love, but in the end it returns in a different form.
Yesterday I saw my neighbor. She lost her twin brother a few months ago. We talked about how we continue to grieve and be changed by the loss of our brothers. It doesn’t feel right, and of course it doesn’t, and still the heart pumps, and expands and contracts, and we absorb and adjust as we’re changed by our travels and the travels of those we love.