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  • What happens when someone dies? Where do they go? Aunt Mary has died and my mother is explaining that my great aunt's soul has gone to heaven. I'm watching Mom pick up up wet pieces of laundry and hang them from the tiers of the clothesline--a big metal structure too tall for me to reach, but which looks like a stripped and inverted umbrella from where I sit. Sheets whip and unfurl in the breeze; layers of diapers flutter and the effect is like playing peek-a-boo with the elements--white fields open to blue skies and close again. Heaven and the sky, I'm realizing, are near each other and I wonder if Aunt Mary's soul is up there, behind a star, watching us. But not forever, I think. When Mom first told me that Aunt Mary had died, I imagined her curled up, in her black dress and gentle smile, like an elderly Irish Buddha, rolling forward through a wheel that was marked from one to 100. When she rolled all the way around to 100, she would move on to another wheel and then to another. Floating upward like an unpinned sheet on a blustery day makes no sense to me.
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