Sunday, April 19, 2015


There was a note in the bathroom of a local restaurant.The note was an e-mail copied and distributed about the neighborhood. It read something like: Lost, one quadroceptor. Please watch for it and please, please return it. E-mail us if you find it.

For some reason the note broke my heart. It was like one of those painful postings you see on phone poles or in restrooms, or anywhere where someone might notice it and come to the rescue. You know the kind: Lost: a black and white kitten named PussyPoo, or worse, a little boy who answers to the name of Timmy, has disappeared from the park. Last seen wearing a blue jacket—and you stop reading. 

But I’ve never seen a note about a thing, a toy I figured, obviously precious to its owner. Did a child write this e-mail?

I had no idea what a quadroceptor was but I knew this one was very important to someone who was very important to whoever posted the sign—a love note.

A quadroceptor is the classic toy reinvented. It's autonomous.  It flies like a  helicopter, zooming all over the house or outdoors. It even flies through windows. It's a drone!  And some small pilot mans the remote controls.

I imagined that the handwritten note was dictated by a child to a parent. I imagined that they went around together to post it. I thought that the parent couldn’t bear the broken heart of a child, and would do everything to try to fix it, and hopefully would not have launched into a little lecture about, “It’s only a toy!”  Or something more shaming. 

I still look for that quadroceptor—more than a toy. 

Children teach us about hearts and show us the lost art of grieving. Young children feel things deeply and do not easily discriminate about relative values until they mature. Death becomes an enemy only when children listen to adults talk about it. Often, then, death becomes an act of God, a God who “takes” someone away. Is this a body-snatcher God? Honestly I do not know how divine love survives with all the errant projections upon its graces. But children are naturally more given to profligate loving, grieving, saving, and finding than they are to destruction, a behavior they learn soon enough.

Once a cat we had in NYC flew out of a window and fell six stories down onto concrete. She used to race back and forth across the width of our apartment, jumping up onto the radiators at each end and pivoting to race back. One of the radiators was under a window. That day the window was open. I was about nine. My back was turned to the sight but I remember my mother’s face shattered into a thousand pieces. She had seen what happened. She cared little, not at all really, for the cat whose name was Lilliput. But it was my first pet. Sobbing and choking with terror and grief, I ran to the window, climbed up on the radiator sill and looked down. I saw, not a flattened, limp heap of mangled and bloody fur on the pavement, but a small cat slowly rising to its feet to look around and let out the loudest yowl imaginable. Then it walked around trying to figure out a way out of the back alley while my mother and I raced to the rescue as fast as we could. Lilliput was uninjured, though she yowled  inconsolably for hours, which was her right really. She rose up. She lived on for years.  

The note about the lost quadroceptor could have been written by God. And the amazing risen cat  seemed to me as a child like God’s doing. It still does. It’s a heart thing.