When Mum died eight years ago, I tried to help John understand, to get it to him that she would not be coming back. In the roundabout way that conversations with him would go, we finally got around to him telling me that he knew mum was in pain of some kind and that she had been coughing and then she wasn't so she must not be in pain any more. Across the bridge, he said. Since he never used metaphors, I wondered what he meant. Then slowly it came to me. He loved Jim Reeves's soothing baritone, so Jim Reeves got played in the house a lot. And there's a song of his that has a chorus that goes like this:
Across the bridge there's no more sorrow
Across the bridge there's no more pain
The sun will shine across the river
And you'll never be unhappy again
I asked him whether that was what he meant, and he told me "that's what I said," as he often did when I finally managed to nail down something he was approaching in his own way.
If you know me, you know I have no religious faith. And that John's conditions were the thing that first started me doubting, when my prayers for his becoming 'normal' never got answered, when this boy without evil in his heart still stayed helpless and dependent.
But today, I wish, how I wish, I could believe those lyrics.