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Memorial created 04-29-2006 by
A Friend
Maureen Bridget Cavanaugh
January 7 1955 - April 4 2005

Maureen probably read hundreds of books in her fifty years of life. Perhaps the one that Maureen most loved was

 

Le Petit Prince

by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

She, of course enjoyed it in the original French. Me, being a mere mortal born in Minnesota had to make due with English.

One of the things that has puzzled me about Maureen is her shutting out parts of her life and abandoning those who still loved her. As can be seen in the many photographs of Maureen, she was very lovely and photogenic, but they do not reveal the hard side of her. Her husband Chris realized this side of her and did not understand it. He had often in their journey asked why she did not get in touch with certain people whom she knew and whom she still cared for. It is almost as if she was afraid of knowing someone for too long a time.

The Little Prince was written in 1943. It has enchanted both child and adult since. Below are some enchanting quotes that reflect Maureeen;

"On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur, l'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."

"You only see rightly with the heart, what matters is invisible to the eyes."

" To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures . . "

"I don't believe you! Flowers are weak creatures. They are naïve. They reassure themselves as best they can. They believe that their thorns are terrible weapons . . ."

"It is such a secret place, the land of tears."

"The fact is that I did not know how to understand anything! I ought to have judged by deeds and not by words. She cast her fragrance and her radiance over me. I ought never to have run away from her . . . I ought to have guessed all the affection that lay behind her poor little strategems. Flowers are so inconsistent! But I was too young to know how to love her . . ."

"That man," said the little prince to himself, as he continued farther on his journey, "that man would be scorned by all the others: by the king, by the conceited man, by the tippler, by the businessman. Nevertheless he is the only one of them all who does not seem to me ridiculous. Perhaps that is because he is thinking of something else besides himself."

"Men?" she echoed. "I think there are six or seven of them in existence. I saw them, several years ago. But one never knows where to find them. The wind blows them away. They have no roots, and that makes their life very difficult."

  "One only understands the things that one tames," said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me..."

"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember."

"They are in a great hurry," said the little prince. "What are they looking for?"

"Not even the locomotive engineer knows that," said the switchman.

And a second brilliantly lighted express thundered by, in the opposite direction.

"Are they coming back already?" demanded the little prince.

"These are not the same ones," said the switchman. "It is an exchange."

"Were they not satisfied where they were?" asked the little prince.

"No one is ever satisfied where he is," said the switchman.

And they heard the roaring thunder of a third brilliantly lighted express.

"Are they pursuing the first travelers?" demanded the little prince.

"They are pursuing nothing at all," said the switchman. "They are asleep in there, or if they are not asleep they are yawning. Only the children are flattening their noses against the windowpanes."

"Only the children know what they are looking for," said the little prince. "They waste their time over a rag doll and it becomes very important to them; and if anybody takes it away from them, they cry..."

"They are lucky," the switchman said.

"Yes," I said to the little prince. "The house, the stars, the desert-- what gives them their beauty is something that is invisible!"

"It seemed to me, even, that there was nothing more fragile on all Earth. In the moonlight I looked at his pale forehead, his closed eyes, his locks of hair that trembled in the wind, and I said to myself: "What I see here is nothing but a shell. What is most important is invisible..."

"But I was not reassured. I remembered the fox. One runs the risk of weeping a little, if one lets himself be tamed..."

"All men have the stars," he answered, "but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For my businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent. You-- you alone-- will have the stars as no one else has them--"

"What are you trying to say?"

"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night... you-- only you-- will have stars that can laugh!"

  "You understand... it is too far. I cannot carry this body with me. It is too heavy."

"Here, then, is a great mystery. For you who also love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has-- yes or no?-- eaten a rose...

Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes...

And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!"
"Oh, Little Prince! Bit by bit I came to understand the secrets of your sad little life..."

 

There are those of us who are of this world. We work, we play, we raise our children to be the same, we grow old and we die. We are part of the flow of life. But there are some who are not of this world. They are from their own little planet. A world of importance due to the force of their mind and their heart. They do not need thousands of roses . . .they only need one. They have tamed what is important to them, but their heart is not with humankind . . .they find foxes or cats or Newfoundlands to be more interesting and worthwhile to tame. Their hearts fear too much weeping to stay further into our realm.

 

They see the invisible. Words mean more than what we see. If you are lucky you shall know someone from a small planet. And if you have a year you can start to fathom what they feel. A year is about all that I had with Maureen. Most of that time we were not even boyfriend/girlfriend -we were just friends. Reading her letters after 34 years I still do not fully understand. Like the little prince she is good at asking questions, but not at answering them. She had much to discover and so little time. There were far too many planets and only so many years. Towards the end Maureen read as many books as she could. She choose those worlds over people. These were more important than saying goodbye to the nameless roses. Her pace was so fast that she did not know how many she had accidentally tamed. I do not know if I was a rose or a fox. I was naive. I doubt if Chris or Nancy know what they were fully. As Chris has told me he realizes there were so many questions he would have liked to have answered by his beloved. There were so many events he wished to revisit their life together with his petit princess.

 

I know Maureen had heart. I could feel it, as did Nancy and Chris - and maybe even the man who kissed her in France. Most who met her were too busy to notice this little athenian princess. They did not see how fragile her body was and how keen her thirst for discovery kept her moving. I think I understand now and I hope Chris does, too. We are selfish and always wished for more of her. Like the little prince she determined when it was time to leave us. Like the little prince she has gone. Those that she tamed have not waited six years to write and think about it. We wish to get this done, so we may move onto our next planet . . . and listen to the stars laugh.

 

Fare thee well, Maureen. Thank you and fare thee well. We only hope someday we can discover as much as you did.

 

I fell in love with another. We have tamed each other and found the joy of life. I have continued to think of matters and found answers in my wife's love, my children's adventures and in my parent's quiet aging. I still have many more questions. I realize I would not have been able to keep up with Maureen, nor found happiness with her. She did more for me by leaving for her France so long ago. I feel Chris was her protective pilot and drew strength from her invisible spark while she lived. Her graying hair did not diminish his heart's vision. Like Nancy and myself, I know he shall continue to have questions never answered by this little princess. And after we have slept until the new morning we will continue to feel sad. But it is time we fix our plane and fly away to more adventures for as long as our hearts continue to listen to the invisible song that is found in the world. Fare thee well, princess. Goodbye.

 

May 7, 2006

 

 

 
 

Music from Amelie

La Valse D'Amelie (The Amelie Waltz)

 

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