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
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 cur, l'essentiel est invisible pour
"You only see rightly with the heart, what matters is invisible to
" 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
- And a second brilliantly lighted express thundered by, in the
- "Are they coming back already?" demanded the little prince.
- "These are not the same ones," said the switchman. "It is an
- "Were they not satisfied where they were?" asked the little
- "No one is ever satisfied where he is," said the switchman.
- And they heard the roaring thunder of a third brilliantly
- "Are they pursuing the first travelers?" demanded the little
- "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
- "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
"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.
- May 7, 2006