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How to Die Properly, Part 1

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Photo Credit: Barry Price

During college, a friend of mine crooned a song by the Toadies with creepy intonation. “Do you wanna diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie?”

I had the unfortunate luck to catch his eye mid-grimace. Entertained by my squeamish reaction, he provided disturbing serenades for the next several years. To this day, I cringe at the memory.

The answer is a resounding no.

I do not.

However, there’s not much I can do about dying. Neither can you.

Eventually, death comes to us all.

If you read my last post, you know we recently lost my father in law. Thankfully, he did almost everything possible to make this process easier on the family.

Here are three easy ways to make our demise easier on loved ones.

  1. Have a plan.

    • Put the end game in writing.

      • According to this USA Today article, 64% of adults in the U.S. don’t have a written will. Write one.
      • A lawyer may not be necessary. Check out this AARP post for specifics.
      • Research the laws in your state; some (Connecticut, for instance) have strange guidelines. Think you’ll leave everything to your spouse? Want it all divvied up equally among your kids? Put it in ink or the courts might decide on your behalf—and the outcome may surprise your family.
    • Be sure the plan is accessible.

      • A written will doesn’t help if no one can retrieve it. Emotions will run high and may be volatile. Don’t add the stress of trying to locate or access paperwork.
      • Small fire-safe boxes are available at home improvement stores. Give a copy of the key or combination to a trusted friend or family member. Keep it at home, not in a bank lock box (which might require a court order).
  2. Communicate.

    • Inform people who need to know.

      • Tell your significant other, children, lawyer or other trusted individual where you have stored your will, insurance information, etc.
    • Discuss your wishes with more than one person.

      • In addition to putting your wishes in writing, inform family members and/or close friends. Want to be cremated? Tell your family, so it’s no surprise.
  3. Get a policy.

    • Life insurance.

      • Even though most of us know we should have life insurance, 40% of us don’t. Without life insurance, our loved ones may be left footing unexpected bills.
    • Death insurance.

      • Okay, it’s not actually called death insurance. But at the very least, consider a policy that will cover expenses, especially if you want a casket and in-ground burial. The average cost of cremation is around $1100, while burial costs can exceed ten times that amount.

 

This is only a start. Click the links in this post for articles providing a wealth of information.

If you have experience to share, please add it below. All of us die eventually; we might as well work together.

 

 

 

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Losing Dad

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Photo Credit: Kate Gabrielle

I went to bed early, but Hubby couldn’t sleep. All four siblings and their families would be in one place the next day, arriving from other areas and states to celebrate Christmas together. Dad’s nine grandchildren would be in one room for the first time in over two years.

I woke to Hubby’s voice as he grabbed his keys.

“Dad fell; I’m headed to his house.”

When he arrived at my father-in-law’s home, Hubby could tell something wasn’t right. He couldn’t get Dad up, so called an ambulance. He and the two emergency crew members managed to lug Dad’s six-foot-five-inch John Wayne frame into a chair. They talked him into going to the hospital.

Later that morning, doctors determined his hip was broken. As a candidate for surgery, Dad’s prognosis was bright—fall victims unable to have surgery don’t recover well, but those able to have surgery often move back into life just as well as before the fall. When the kids and I arrived at the hospital, Dad was sleeping. I offered to sit with him while Hubby took a nap; our brother-in-law took the kids to the waiting room.

In the peaceful, dark room, I watched dad sleep from the ubiquitous pink vinyl visitors chair. The warm smell of clean, bleached cotton permeated the room, almost overshadowing the sharp odor of disinfectant. A sharp contrast to the calm in the room, nurses bustled past the doorway, half hidden by a curtain.

A few minutes later, the anesthesiologist arrived, flipped on a light and woke Dad to discuss the surgery. I sent a text to notify Hubby, then turned to listen.

You are still a candidate for surgery but as the anesthesiologist, I want you to understand the risk. On a scale of 1 to 5, you’re a 4+. Your heart is not working properly. I need to make sure you are clear about the possible outcomes.

Dad immediately agreed that he understood his risk but wanted to do the surgery anyway. I asked him if he wanted to discuss it with Hubby first.

His eyes locked on mine. Motioning to his hip, he said, “I want to do the surgery. This is no way to live.”

He stared at me for another moment, as though making sure I received his message clearly, then nodded and looked at the anesthesiologist. “I don’t need to talk to anyone. I want the surgery.”

Hubby and my brother-in-law arrived with the kids just as a nurse swept into the room to begin surgery preparation. She allowed us time to give kisses and hugs and pray for Dad. As they wheeled him out, he gave Hubby a thumbs-up.

“I’ll beat this one, too.”

***

Several hours later, the anesthesiologist approached our group, a big smile shining through his droopy mustache.

Your dad came through the surgery just fine. He’ll be in his room in thirty minutes; then you can visit him.

In a collective exhale, our group relaxed.

Hubby chatted with his sister and her husband, their daughters played with phones, our children zoned in to their Kindles.

I tried to decipher a strange feeling, then realized it was mild surprise. I was absolutely happy he’d pulled through. However, I didn’t realize until that moment that I’d thought, during the conversation with the anesthesiologist, that he was telling me he might not make it—that he preferred heaven to living in bed.

And perhaps he was.

We waited.

Thirty minutes came and went.

Finally, the doors opened. The doctor, the nurse and the anesthesiologist appeared together, faces somber. Through the ensuing, one-sided conversation, the young surgeon sat as though in a trance, staring at the floor.

Right after I talked with you, we lost him. 

It was his heart. 

We did everything we could. 

We just couldn’t get him back. 

We did everything we could. 

Everything.

We were stunned. Two families were still traveling in, planning to come to the hospital so the grandkids could see Papa.

Holding each other tight, we sobbed. Several minutes later Hubby and I looked up, realizing together that our children—sitting several feet away—were still absorbed in their Kindle games. Thanks to headphones, they’d missed the tragedy. We experienced it again in their faces as we explained Papa had gone to heaven. Adopted grandchildren grieve just as deeply as biological grandchildren.

***

Take good care of him.

The anesthesiologist’s words have echoed in my mind all week.

I don’t know what caused him to zero in on Hubby. He shadowed us as we walked the empty, sterile hospital halls. He waited as Hubby and I held each other before approaching the bed where Dad’s still form lay. He pulled me aside as our somber group finally trickled away.

Wiping tears from his eyes, he insisted, “we did everything possible. Sometimes ‘everything’ just isn’t enough.” Nodding toward my husband’s retreating back, he said, “Please watch out for him. Take good care of him.” I hugged the good doctor, assuring him I would.

And for the past week, I’ve done my best. I know the toughest months are ahead of us.

We all knew this difficult time would eventually arrive; no one lives on this earth forever.

On the other hand, we didn’t expect it now. 

I’ve been terrified of the day we’d lose Dad because I was afraid it would destroy Hubby. We were all so close, especially since Mom died almost ten years ago. One of my favorite parts of Hubby is his loyalty to family, but I also worried how that loyalty might be torn in death.

Instead of destruction, this death brought something else.

I have never been so proud of my husband as during this week. He worked to create understanding and compromise. Took on tasks others didn’t feel emotionally able to handle. Remained strong support and loving comfort for our kids. Created a fabulous slide show to communicate the incredible story of Dad’s life. Wrote and delivered a heartfelt eulogy at the memorial service. Explained Dad’s faith in Jesus and our certain hope we’ll see him again one day.

 

Hubby is no different than he’s ever been; perhaps I just see him in a different light. Dad, who always reminded me of John Wayne, was larger than life in many ways; his escapades could fill a book and his presence filled the room. I was always focused, as was Hubby, on Dad.

Losing Dad allowed me to see that Hubby is just as much a force to be reckoned with. He generally focused that energy on helping Dad. Now, he’s the one supporting everyone, keeping the family together, guiding us all. He’s the keeper of the family spirit, the source of comfort, the voice of reason and wisdom—and everyone sees it.

I am so proud of him, and I WILL take good care of him.

 

 

I am Dying

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Photo by Jon Bunting

I am dying.

Scary words, until you realize that from the moment we are born, we begin to die.

I am dying. So are you. Dying is a part of living.

As Benjamin Franklin possibly said,

…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

In most circles, death is not an oft-discussed topic, at least publicly.

I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to picking friends; most of mine are eligible for the senior coffee discount at McDonald’s.

With age, I suppose, comes a certain awareness that while the end may not be near, it is inevitable. At least once a week, one of my silver-tressed friends tosses out a phrase like,

if I’m still here next year,

or even,

we both know I won’t be here much longer.

Recently, a close friend confided,

I came across a picture of a family reunion. Of at least forty faces, I’m the only one in the photo who is still alive. The realization shook me. 

I often wonder whether other people my age feel the imminence of death in the same way, or if my musings are influenced by the input of my elders, their consistent reminders of mortality.

I want my life to count for something.

I wish to leave my children with good memories.

I hope Hubby can honestly say these were the best years, the most fun he ever had. That he could always tell I love him deeply with every bit of my soul.

I’d like to accomplish something amazing before I die.

All of this is constantly in the forefront of my mind. 

Also, I really don’t want anyone to hate me because they end up with my unfinished business…all the things I was going to use “later,” millions of papers to scan, the mess of notes on my computer, the parts of the house I always plan to clean but end up forgetting they exist (like wiping the top of the refrigerator or under-the-couch dust bunny removal).

Speaking of the mess of notes…will anyone even read them? Maybe Hubby, or the kids. But unless I buckle down and finish a book, they don’t even make sense. Will they think I was crazy, or just disorganized? Maybe I should create a “destroy computer upon my death” note to save everyone from embarrassment (ok, mostly me).

I want to do something. Something real. Something big. Something that matters.

It’s not like I sit around and do nothing. Today, I worked a half-day for my job, changed the sheets on my bed, washed laundry, steam-cleaned two couches and the carpets in two rooms, made meals and helped the Boy organize his room. (He has picked up my “but-I-might-need-this-later” habit…we are both striving to overcome hoarding random objects that might be useful for creating.)

But of the list above, only two of those items have any real meaning (although it’s nice to be clean…and it’s also nice to eat). I am a recruiter, so the time I spent talking with candidates could ultimately pay off in a changed life if they find a job match. And most important of all, the time spent with my son helped solidify a bond.

While we worked, we talked about trust and how Hubby and I work very hard to keep our word even when it means we’re not happy (think promised consequence for certain action). The Boy expressed how difficult it is for him, even after five and a half years, to trust.

Later, when I put him to bed, he hugged me hard and—with a fervor I don’t often see—thanked me several times for helping him. Definitely time well spent.

Especially since I’m dying.

Only one breath stands between me and eternity. One distracted driver. One stray bullet. One disease. One heart attack. One robbery gone wrong.

It’s probably better that I don’t know how I’ll go, or when. I read a story once in which the characters all had a time stamp to let them know when they’d “expire.” If I knew, I might obsess about it (will it hurt? how long will it take?) instead of living. If the date wouldn’t arrive for another 50 years, I might not live with urgency or try to make each day count. After all, 50 years is “plenty” of time.

I just read an article by Ray Stedman called, “How, Then, Should We Live?” encouraging us to “live supportively, live generously, live thoughtfully!” With Georgia mortality on my mind, his writing resonated deeply. The article tends to wander, but I highly recommend you read it—if you do, let me know what you think.

Since I obviously don’t have info regarding the Big Date, I’ve decided to live this upcoming year as if it were my last, with the goal of living supportively, generously and thoughtfully. 

I want 2017 to be the year thinking about death causes me to make a difference, live fully, love absolutely.

Am I crazy? (Wait, don’t answer that…)

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Take the poll.

A Page from Your Book

As a young girl, I heard an adult tell his friend, “I took a page from your book.” Avid reader and lover of all things in print, I misunderstood his statement. Annoyed that anyone would rip a page from a book, I determined not to lend my books to anyone without first ensuring they agreed to leave all pages intact.

Later, I learned this was simply a phrase meaning, “I did something you would do.” Reading other blogs, I often find my recent thoughts mirrored. I’m not sure if this is because we tend to gravitate to others similar to ourselves (in physical life and online) or simply coincidence, but I feel as though we are having a conversation. I thought something you would think. 

I’ve been thinking lately about what I’ll leave behind. How only a moment—just a breath—can take us from one reality to the next. What a sheer curtain hangs between now and forever. Seems like you’ve been thinking about the same.

Just so you know, I took a page from your blog.

 

When you don’t have an artifact which will save you in your afterlife, don’t give value to your artifacts in this world! – SP

 

You are not alive in memories
but that is the place I find you,
so I fan the small fire,
inhaling deeply,
remembering
today. – LL

-JRLZN

I don’t fear death anymore; I fear looking back on my time here on this earth and realising that I missed out on so many wonderful opportunities because of such a naïve notion of allowing apprehension of the inevitable to destroy the wonderful gift of life that I have been presented. I don’t want to grow old having squandered my time, or having lived an un-lived life.CN

 

If I Stay

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the trailer describes what’s inside my head.

Temporal. Fleeting.

A short time. Like a mist. Snap of the fingers. Don’t blink.

We are separated by so thin a fabric from the other side. We ignore reality, go about our business. Our lives.

Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the knowledge of how quickly life can end. I gaze around the room, arrested in the realization that one of us could be absent at any moment. The immediacy of impending change.

An unexpected gust extinguishes the flame. The Daylily blooms in the morning, opening bright colors to the sun and by evening shrivels to nothing.  In an instant, our bodies become a shell, a container empty in sudden finality.

I forget, at times, that this is not ‘my’ life. It is easy to settle into comfort, expecting certain players and characters to appear, disappear, reappear.

But we are reciprocal performers, all bearing roles in The Grand Masterpiece. Every performance, every pageant demands the inexorable curtain call.

Nothing but a moment separates us from leaving it all behind.

I wrote the above while sitting in a church service. A heavy feeling descended; the almost-knowledge of impending change. That someone would soon lay down the script.

I make no pretense of having a direct line to the future, but the weight of that sense was undeniable. Looking around the room, I wondered who it might be.

The retired Army general, always at attention? The empty-nest mother? The ancient farmer decked out in his silver and turquoise-studded leather string tie? The young woman with a heart condition? The middle-aged man with cancer? Me?

What bars our heart from stopping, keeps lungs from failing, prevents our brain from declining to send messages?

No one died that day. Or that week.

I felt better. But still, the visual of the Daylily haunted the edges of my thoughts.

The following Saturday, I attended a ladies’ create-something-cool event at our church. I learned how to pronounce decoupage.

My friend Ana, curves added by her pregnancy, approached with questions about heart surgery. Her baby girl had a heart defect similar to my son’s. They would perform surgery soon after birth to close the hole. She even had the same wonderful surgeon. Still, she twisted her coarse, dark ponytail with nervous energy.

She relaxed as we talked, as I praised the surgeon, as we smiled over my son’s quick recovery. She walked away.

Four days later, I received the message from another friend. Ana had a stroke. She was unresponsive. The baby might die.

I thought of the movie and wondered if she could hear everything around her.

Texts, phone calls and prayers—sad, desperate, hopeful—punctuated the night.

Moved to a better hospital, she did not wake. More prayers, more calls.

Eclampsia.

While souls hovered, her two beautiful boys said goodbye to their mother and the sister they would never know. Her husband released his wife and daughter. His loves.

Within hours, they were gone.

Sons bereft of mother, husband lacking loving partner, friends without her shining presence. All left destitute.

Just before the funeral, I found the note and remembered the feeling. It returned with concussive force.

I’ve only now been able to write this.

We have no promise of tomorrow. For that matter, no assurance of today. No guarantee that I will draw another breath.

But I have hope.  Do you?

1 Peter 1:3-5

Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us a new birth and a living hope. This hope is living because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He has given us new birth so that we might share in what belongs to him. This is a gift that can never be destroyed. It can never spoil or even fade away. It is kept in heaven for you. Through faith you are kept safe by God’s power. Your salvation is going to be completed. It is ready to be shown to you in the last days.

 

 

 

Casey Alexander is Dead

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From the Progress-Index, November 1, 2015:

Casey Alexander and her husband passed away yesterday in a one-car crash.

They are survived by their children, ages nine and eleven, three parents, six siblings and ten nieces and nephews. Witnesses from vehicles behind them say the two were heading north around a highway ramp in his Mustang when the car lost traction in the rain, spun a 360, flipped and crashed. The car landed at the bottom of an eight-foot embankment. No memorial arrangements have been announced at this time.

That almost happened.

Yesterday, Hubby and I left the kiddos with our favorite babysitter (the only one who didn’t run away screaming in those first few years) to take a much-needed day to ourselves. We haven’t had a “date day” in…well, I can’t remember the last one.

Right before we left, our daughter hugged me and said, “I’ll really miss you while you’re gone.” This has NEVER happened. Usually, when we leave, she has one of two reactions:

  1. Ignores us completely.
  2. Communicates (by dancing around, giggling wildly or running through the house) that she is thrilled to be rid of us. Or, for the sake of accuracy, me.

I was happy (and slightly flabbergasted) at the demonstrative-for-her comment. Our boy kissed me on the cheek, also a bit out-of-the-ordinary when others are present, but he’s familiar with the sitter.

Ten minutes later, we zipped down the road in his red Mustang. We’re a Mustang family; in fact, a Mustang led us to the kids.

Side note: I just had a song flash through my mind, to the tune of the Addams Family theme. The Mustang Family (bah dah dah duh) *snap snap.* Don’t worry. I’ll spare you the rest.

Almost seven years ago, Hubby called me. “I found it! Can I get it? We saved the money; we should have enough. It’s the one!”  For the record, he knows he doesn’t have to ask “permission,” but he always does. And I always say yes, of course.

A certain special Mustang eluded him for years; on that day he found “the one” for sale on a road near our house. When I arrived home, Hubby stood in our driveway with a new-to-us old Mustang and a tall young man, the previous owner. “I’m pastor at the brick church down the road. We’d love to have you visit sometime,” he said.

The following Sunday, we attended.

“You’re here!” he said, surprised.

“You invited us,” we said. After three years of looking for a church where we fit, the gentleman who said the closing prayer added, “Remember, a visitor is just a friend we haven’t met yet!” Hubby and I looked at each other, smiling. The man had echoed our former pastor, a beloved friend lost to cancer. This was home.

Soon, we met Kay, her five biological children and several foster children. Two years later, Kay welcomed two small children into her home for a weekend of respite care, and introduced us to our future kids.

Five years down the road, in a different Mustang, we head off on a day of respite for ourselves.

He took the curve of the highway ramp no faster than usual. Hubby has always had an innate grasp of driving mechanics, and several years ago I surprised him with a stunt driving class (which he aced). He knows exactly how to handle power.

I grinned over at him as we headed for the highway. Then, we hit a bump. In other conditions, the jar to the tire wouldn’t matter, but this time the road was wet and slick.

Autumn colors spun around me, and for a moment it felt like a dream. I thought, “Pretty. Like a kaleidoscope.”

Snapping back to reality, I saw the clear problem. Skidding wheels, spinning car, deep ditch fast approaching. I thought, “Oh, hey, are we going to die? I think we are.”

My life did not flash before my eyes. I had only one thought, outside of the certainty we’d soon be dead. “Dang it. She just started to care whether we come back!”

The car slid to a stop inches from the edge of an eight-foot drop. We’d made a complete 360. I peered down to our no-longer-certain doom.

Cars approached, so he pulled out to the highway and took the next exit.

I leaned on the hood as hubby checked each tire and wheel, pronouncing everything fine. “Let’s go,” he said. I assumed he meant back home. Nope. He headed out to the highway, ready for our date. My man.

We both started laughing. “Sorry,” he gasped, “I don’t know why I’m laughing, but I can’t stop.” I guess it was the adrenaline. Neither one of us could rein it in for several minutes.

You’d think a near-death experience would change everything, but this morning, I woke up cranky and spoke sharply to both kids. After they went to school, I realized that although they had managed to disobey before 8 am (and before my coffee) on a Monday, I could still have handled it better.

After all, today is a gift. Tomorrow isn’t promised. And I’m thankful to have one more day to try to do things a little better, like being more patient and thankful.

Speaking of thankful, I texted our sitter and thanked her again for being a consistent good influence in our kids’ lives. She replied that she told her mom about our near-miss, and her mom said, “That’s so weird. I had this worrying feeling yesterday that they might die, so I prayed for their safety.” I’m sure she just thought it was an odd thought, but hey, we’re still here, so maybe that prayer saved our lives.

I’m also pretty sure that after they dusted off their robes and wings, our guardian angels requested re-assignment. “Those two are crazy. They’re wayyyyyyyy too much work. Let someone else have a turn!”

We have such a tenuous connection to life. Let’s take a moment to consider the opportunities we’re given, to appreciate the individuals around us. Complain less. Endure more. Hope more. Love more.

Today, I’ll focus on living as though Casey Alexander is dead. If I think about what I would wish I’d done on my last day, maybe I’ll be nicer. More patient.

Imagine you know you’ll live only 24 more hours. What will you do?

***

Photo Credit: Casey Alexander

Memory-al Day

In the U.S., we remember all the men and women who gave their lives in war on Memorial Day.

Whether or not you’re American, and whether (American or not) you agree with the decisions and tactics of our military, I’m sure you understand the feeling of patriotism and pride in the origins of culture and country. The gratitude we have for those who have sacrificed to give us life.

I’m somewhat ashamed to say that although I’ve always participated in the general “thankful” activities (parades, picnics, parties), it’s sometimes easy to forget why we have the day off. This time, Memorial Day was a bit different.

This weekend, a young man in our church sang Mark Schultz’s “Letters from War.” I first heard LFW years ago, during the heat of battle in Iraq. Tension levels soared at home as we daily heard of the deaths of soldiers from many different countries.

Both of my brothers signed up for the National Guard a few months before the tragedy of 9/11 (at the time, I was under the impression the National Guard stayed in-country to Guard the Nation, but my misunderstanding became evident as young women and men deployed). They went to Iraq and Afghanistan. Due to a bombing, we had no word from one of my brothers for far too long. I heard this song while we waited for confirmation he lived.

“Letters From War”

She walked to the mailbox
On that bright summers day
Found a letter from her son
In a war far away

He spoke of the weather
And good friends that he’d made
Said “I’d been thinking ’bout dad
And the life that he had
That’s why I’m here today”
And at the end he said
“You are what I’m fighting for”
It was the first of the letters from war

She started writing
“You’re good and you’re brave
What a father that you’ll be someday
make it home
make it safe”

She wrote every night as she prayed

Late in December
A day she’ll not forget
Oh her tears stained the paper
With every word that she read

It said “I was up on a hill
I was out there alone
When the shots all rang out
And bombs were exploding
And that’s when I saw him
He came back for me
And though he was captured
A man set me free
And that man was your son
He asked me to write to you
I told him I would, oh I swore”
It was the last of the letters from war

And she prayed he was living
Kept on believing
And wrote every night just to say

“You are good
And you’re brave
what a father that you’ll be someday
Make it home
Make it safe”
Still she kept writing each day

Then two years later
Autumn leaves all around
A car pulled in the driveway
And she fell to the ground
And out stepped a captain
Where her boy used to stand

He said, “Mom, I’m following orders
From all of your letters
And I’ve come home again”,
He ran in to hold her
And dropped all his bags on the floor
Holding all of her letters from war

Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home

I don’t think I need to explain the emotion this song created the first time I heard it. This Sunday as I sat in church, the emotion, unexpected and encompassing, crashed over me like an ocean wave. I’d forgotten the absolute agony of not knowing. Of being almost certain our last goodbye was exactly that.

This Memorial Day brought that memory, sharp and vivid, slamming into me. I couldn’t stop the tears. Our son, always concerned when I’m anything but happy, asked in stage-whisper, “are you crying, Mama?” I wrote him a note on a napkin fast becoming soaked.

“The first time I heard this song, we didn’t know if your uncle was alive. It reminded me of that feeling and also made me very thankful that both your uncles came home, safe. Happy tears.”

He nodded and snuggled into my side, taking my hand and wrapping my arm around his shoulders. I closed my eyes and thanked God for the freedom to sit with my family in any church I choose, for the freedom of others to do the same—and for the freedom not to attend, if they prefer. The freedom to speak freely, to write my opinion with no fear of repercussion. The freedom to give, to love, to serve. The freedom to tell the truth.

I thanked God my brothers came home safe.

And prayed for the families whose brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers did not return.

Regardless of where you live or your country of origin, someone has sacrificed for you. Let’s keep the memory alive for more than one day.

I want to live a Memorial Life.

Lyrics from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/markschultz/lettersfromwar.html

Adoption = Losing Pumpkin

We are now Hamsterless.

Our son is devastated.

Hubby and I left for a weekend away (which, as you know, included a full day of reading for me while he attended a conference). Saturday morning, after a full night of sleep with NO interruptions, my cell dinged.

The frantic text from the babysitter read, “Hamster is dead. What do we do with it???”

I called, he cried. In the spirit of solidarity, our daughter cried. The sitter asked if she should throw it out, or bury it, or…

She did not want to bury it. I could tell. Something about the way her voice squeaked when she said “bury.”

I directed her to put the entire cage in Hubby’s work room and lock the door (being sure no cats wandered in).

This afternoon, we gathered as a family and had a Hammie Funeral. I found a heart-shaped rock, which our son placed on top of the Rubbermaid casket.

As my husband filled the dirt back in, our son asked me to say something about the hamster.

“Pumpkin was a good hamster. We all loved him. He never stopped trying to escape; he just knew one day he’d chew through those metal bars. We don’t know why he died, but we are glad for the time we had with him. Enjoy Hamster Heaven, Pumpkin. Run wild and free in the meadow with no bars to hold you back.”

Actually, that last part is what I wish I’d said. Note to self: tell the kids tomorrow that he’s running wild and free. They’ll like that.

And as much as I loved Pumpkin, I’m sort of relieved. Ever since we brought the new pup home, I’ve been dreading the day that acrobatic canine might find a way to jump from bed-to-chair-to-desk-to-dresser (I’ve already tossed him off our high kitchen table more than once) to the hamster cage.

Sad the hammie is gone; reallyreallyreallyreally glad the dog didn’t do it. He’s actually sleeping in our son’s room tonight–he’s a great therapy dog (not trained…he just is).

Once again, our kids face permanent separation. It never gets easier.

RIP, Pumpkin.

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Image from https://swimmerofnz.wordpress.com. It looks exactly like Pumpkin.

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