A little girl in a blue dress
"The little girl in the grocery store made her feelings clear without any words or music."
The saddest sound is a child crying.
That’s what I heard in the grocery store recently. There she was, a little girl about 2 years old, in a ruffled blue dress standing beside her mother’s grocery cart and crying.
The mother was as beautiful and serene as a Madonna. A little sister was sitting quietly in the cart, and a bigger brother was hanging placidly onto the side. All three were ignoring the crying girl.
“What a beautiful blue dress,” I said to the child as I went by, thinking that might distract her. It did. For about two seconds, then she cried louder. I hurried away.
The next time I saw the family, she was in front of the cart trying to push it backward. Not crying now; she was wailing. Her siblings ignored her. Her mother remained tranquil and quiet.
We met a final time at the checkout line. The little girl was lying on the floor, screaming and kicking the cart.
“What does she want?” I asked the mother.
“She wants the kind of cart you drive.”
Oh. Now I understand. A pretty little girl in a blue, ruffled dress throwing a 2-year-old temper tantrum.
The last time I saw them, they were walking across the parking lot toward their car. Three were walking. The little girl was being carried, shrieking even louder.
The week began with a memorial service for a close friend. On such an occasion we reach for our highest forms of communication — poetic language and exquisite music — to express our deepest emotions.
The chapel was filled, even the balcony, with family and friends dressed in somber colors, primarily black.
The service itself was a thing of beauty: prayers, a string quartet played Puccini’s “Crisantemi,” a cellist played J.S. Bach’s “Air in G,” friends read poetry by Alfred Lord Tennyson and Emily Dickinson, a soprano sang Gabriel Fauré’s “Pie Jesu,” and to close, a bass soloist sang “Amazing Grace” a capella from the balcony.
The music and language said what we felt, that our hearts were aching.
The week ended with a wedding — my first same-gender wedding, and for two men I adore. They wore identical gray suits with navy vests. The church was small and charming. The occasion was so happy, many of us wore celebratory colors. At least I did; I wore a chartreuse dress and lots of golden bling.
This service, too, was beautifully crafted and included Scripture readings, poetry and a Native American blessing. From the balcony, the choir sang “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach and “Old Irish Blessing”; a cellist and organist played “The Lord’s Prayer.” Two robed clergy officiated. One was the church minister, who radiated cheer. He pronounced the couple wed “under the law of the state of Oklahoma. Let me repeat that,” he said, “under the law of the state of Oklahoma.” We laughed because we live in Oklahoma and know what it’s like to live in Oklahoma.
Before the lovely service was over, the minister acknowledged the couple’s dedicated attention to detail in crafting their bespoke service. “It was like working with two mothers-of-the-bride.” We laughed and applauded.
The little girl in the grocery store made her feelings clear without any words or music. She hated the damned grocery cart’s guts, and she wanted everyone to know it.
We grieve and celebrate with the best language and music we know. We laugh, weep, hug one another and polish the silver of our communication skills.
On many occasions lately, I have wanted to communicate by lying on the floor in public, screeching and kicking. Without more language skills, I would be a little girl in a blue dress.
I may be, yet.