My first experience of having someone innocently ask the whereabouts of my son occurred this week-almost everyone who knows us, and knew of Jud, was also aware of his suffering and death. However, many of our neighbors were unfortunately oblivious.
Back in July of 2006, Drake, Jud, and I (while pregnant with Jessie) met some of our neighbors at the HOA swimming pool about a month after we moved into our current home. One particular family lives a few doors down from us, and we chatted with their kids that day while splashing in the water. We also shared snacks and made an effort to converse with the parents and grandparents who only spoke Spanish.
Since that day, we have seen this family several times, waved, said “hi”, and they even ogled over Jessie when she was an infant.
They recently had a new baby as well, and seeing as Jessie is enthralled with babies, when the grandmother came outside yesterday holding the newborn, Jessie raced over to greet her. In my broken Spanish, I also made an attempt to chat with the grandmother.
After I asked her a few questions, she inquired, “¿Donde está su otro niño?” Which I quickly understood to mean, “Where is your other child?”
Oh, boy! I had not anticipated her question and was at a loss for Spanish words to communicate the situation.
“Muerte” popped into my head and I vaguely remembered it to mean “death.” So with hesitation, I uttered this foreign word. Her look of confusion, shock, and disbelief revealed to me that I had, indeed, communicated accurately, but she proceeded to imply that what I said must have been incorrect. I re-submitted the word “muerte,” this time nodding my head as if I knew exactly what I was saying. Still doubting the accuracy of my Spanish vocabulary, she inquisitively shook her head in disbelief.
Determined now to convey the circumstances, but having exhausted my Spanish words, I waved her over to our front porch where we have a stone engraved with “Judson Levasheff 2004-2007”.
This sweet grandma shuddered in horror.
Her face was filled with questions, sympathy, and compassion, but silence fell between us. It was not the language barrier that left her speechless, but the brokenness of humanity crossing all cultural barriers where words were unnecessary.
I suddenly felt close to her.
The natural stillness between us reminded me how the human soul can communicate so much without words.