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Sam wakes up again the same way, but not thinking the same thing. Yesterday, he wanted to know where Nata was because he wanted to know she was safe. It worried him that people had stolen her and made her go away. Maybe they are still hurting her.

Now, he is satisfied that she is safe. Still, he is worried about the location problem. How will he find her when he dies? He can stand the idea of separation if it is temporary; if I live 30 or 40 or 50 years more, that doesn’t have any meaning for him. It’s just that I will die, and he can be with Nata again. That makes it bearable.

But he has to be able to find her.

He tries to reason this out. It is tough going. When he is out, I can feel the effort it requires to follow a line of logic. I am there in the background, and I can feel the strain of it for him, but he is trying.

He thinks that Nata—he’s been told she is a “sparkle” now—can find him sometimes even though she is dead. He imagines this sparkle as being something like Tinker Bell, and so it makes sense to him that she would not always be in one place. She might zip around to different places.

And it really does seem to me—as well as to him—that she is with me at times. I presume this is some kind of psychological phenomenon, where I am just very strongly reminded of her.

But for many years there has been a periodic sense of a presence. It comes at odd times: waiting for IT Ma’am to pick us up front of my landlord’s shop last month, sitting in the backyard drinking tea at twilight when I was 13 and she had just died. I don’t remember most of these moments, just that they have entered my experience of life as something I expect to happen from time to time.

Sam called out to her a few days ago and after that he felt hugged all over, in the way that he used to when she was alive. I am not surprised he thinks she comes to visit him sometimes.

So he reasons that if she can find him now, then she will also be able to find him after he dies. There is something about their connection that is like a tracking device—he doesn’t see it in those terms, he is imagining a special magnet or something like an invisible rope between them. He doesn’t know why she doesn’t use this to stay with him all the time, and I imagine that question will come next.

For the moment, however, he is satisfied. He can find her again. He doesn’t have the mechanics of it worked out, but it logically follows.

In the night though, he wakes up tantrummy because he doesn’t want her to be a sparkle. He wants to be able to hug her again, and she needs a body to do that. He can feel hugged by her sparkle still. That happens. But he cannot hug her. He is angry she doesn’t have a body for him to hug anymore. The bad men stole it from her. They made her body stop working, and now it cannot be hugged anymore.

He is really getting down to it now. They stole her body from him. They couldn’t kill her soul—he cannot bring himself to believe she no longer exists and neither can I—but they killed her body. And her body did things she cannot do without it. This is the real loss. The body and soul together is a different creature than either one separately. He loved them together. I loved them together.

It seems strange to be puzzling out an event, as an adult, that happened when I was 13 using a 2-year-old mind. The 13-year-old mind is perfectly capable of processing the event. All the cognitive abilities are there to do it. My adult mind is perfectly capable of it too. But Sam seems to need to. It’s totally inefficient.

But he’s lit on the key element of it all: the body and soul can do things together that they cannot do separately. I’m not sure my adult mind would have gotten to the core of it so well. My adult mind has too much fluff and nonsense in it to get to the core of things very easily.

I grew up in a church that tries to separate the mind and the body as much as possible. Everything about the body seems to be bad. It is “fleeting” if not actually evil.

The physical world is superficial and an involvement in it suggests a certain shallowness of personality. No one wants to be shallow. The fear of turning out to be a shallow person is as constricting as the fear of rejection or disapproval.

Worse, everything negative about the mind and the personality that really are bad—selfishness, pride, the desire to hurt and punish others when you’re angry, impulsiveness—are equated with the body. They are “flesh.” It’s metaphorical, but spirit is good, flesh is bad.

The body and everything to do with the body is bad. At best, it is meaningless. At worse, it harms others.

But the body and mind do complex things together that make our experiences rich. I am not going to be able to explain this well—and it is new to me, but probably not to you. If I were merely sitting next to Natashka, something happened inside my body that created an emotional response. I felt safe. Being away from her does something equally powerful and mysterious: I feel a sense of longing and uneasiness.

I was safe with her. But your body—I am sure of this—responds to the physical proximity of your “people” in a way that motivates you to stay close to them. This is not just about a cognition—this person makes me safe—but is chemical.

It has to be.

It’s oxytocin. There are other things going on—we are a complex species—but one piece is completely in the body. And the result for us, the attachment, comes from the interplay of body and soul together.

That’s just one example.

 

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