The last two weeks have been very draining, both for us, and other people in our life.
In addition to the death in the family, Jen's car got totaled in an accident. For those of you playing at home, this is the third Focus she's owned that's been destroyed in a car accident in the past seven years. My friend Karen says we have bad luck with cars and I'm inclined to agree.
I tend to keep my phone in airplane mode at work, so as to conserve power, and I'll check in for messages around lunch time. I happened to check at 10:30 that day and I saw a text message from Jen explaining that she was okay, so we exchanged a few and then I called her at lunch. She was fine, the car was in bad shape.
Fortunately she as okay and she had comp & collision, so she was able to get a heavily subsidized rental.
On Friday, we went to the viewing for my stepmother's dad. Lily wasn't apprehensive at all. She's been exposed to a lot of viewpoints on the subject, doesn't have a strong conception of what happens when one dies. When she was three, her hamster died, and she said that Rosie was in Hamster Heaven. I asked what she was doing in Hamster Heaven and she said, "Nothing. She's dead and you don't do anything when you're dead."
I told her that Nana was sad, but she believed that her daddy was up in Heaven and that comforted her. Lily said, "But we don't know if that's really true, do we?" and I replied, "No, we don't, but that's what Nana believes. You have to decide what you believe for yourself."
Nana wanted to see Lily because they hadn't seen her in a while, and I wasn't sure how Lily would react. We took her to the funeral parlor and figured we could back out to the lobby if she started getting concerned. She didn't, though. Her two big questions were, in order,
Will it be a Viking funeral where we send him down the river?
Will he be wearing pants?
We reassured her that everyone wears pants at a viewing and she accepted that. So we waited in line to see him. I didn't know him that well, but he was a big part of the community for over fifty years, and the turnout was tremendous. Lily waited in line with us very patiently, looked at him respectfully, and gave Nana a great big hug. I couldn't have asked for better behavior from her.
I took her outside and we sat on a bench near a fountain. I couldn't quite figure out what was going on in her little head. She piped up, "Well, that was fun!" as we were leaving, but I'm sure that was a reaction to so many people she loves so dearly being together in one place and not the circumstances that brought them there.
(And while we're on the subject of not knowing what goes on in her little head, I was playing I'm thinking of an animal with her and one of her questions was "Is it bigger than the earth?" and I was like "What?" and she said, "I thought it might be a horde of aliens." "No. It's not a horde of aliens.")
After that, we went to a Sonic for some milkshakes because we always try to balance something sad with something happy.
And Saturday was the service. Jen and I went; Lily stayed home with her Oma.
It was a nice service. I'm not religious, but I agreed with the sentiments. Cliff was a good guy, he loved his family, he gave back to his community and the world is poorer for his absence. It reminded me of a passage from the Bernard college commencement ceremony that I really liked:
People ask me sometimes, who inspires you, Mr. President? Those quiet heroes all across this country -- some of your parents and grandparents who are sitting here -- no fanfare, no articles written about them, they just persevere. They just do their jobs. They meet their responsibilities. They don't quit. I'm only here because of them. They may not have set out to change the world, but in small, important ways, they did. They certainly changed mine.
That was the kind of man Cliff was and the kind I try to be.
And you can continue on to the happier portion of our weekend in the second part of this post, right over here.