A little more than a week ago Death paid the Shack a visit. The old Grim Reaper came a calling upon our doorstep and in spite of our best efforts he strolled on in. With little to no effort he claimed another loved one and set in motion an odd series of events.
Due to privacy issues I am not able to reveal everything that happened, but I will share bit with you. You see this particular relative was insistent upon being cremated. If you are not Jewish that may sound relatively innocuous, but it is generally frowned upon by us. Jews aren’t real big on throwing ourselves into an oven. We’ll leave it at that.
As the levaya wasn’t a traditional affair we decided to let the kids attend. It was the first time either one of them had been, although not the first time they had visited a cemetery. I made a point of speaking with them before we went. I wanted to make sure they were as comfortable as they could be.
We sat down and spoke for a few minutes about what it means to die and what happens. I felt relatively good about the conversation and figured that I’d deal with whatever else came along.
There are two moments from the levaya that I will always remember.
1) My son spots my parents in the back of the room and runs down the center aisle to see them. He explains to them that the family room on the side has bottled water and offers to get them some. Before my parents can respond he throws himself on his belly and soldier crawls all the way up the aisle until he reaches the Bimah.
Upon reaching the Bimah he stands up and sprints over the family room to grab the water. He then races off of the Bimah and returns to the soldier crawl position to deliver the water to my parents.
2) The service ends and he asks me where the body is. It catches me off guard. I don’t want to tell him about cremation. He is not ready to hear it and I know that it will freak him out. So I tell him that there are a couple of steps that need to be taken to finish preparation of the body.
This of course leads to a whole line of questions. I answer all of them and find out that I have a budding attorney/detective. He thinks that I am holding back and asks me what I haven’t told him.
I tell him that he knows everything that he needs to know and he tells me that he needs more information. I never waver and spend the next six days fending off additional questions, but I think that someone else might have spilled their guts.
He has been asking some peculiar questions. If I find out that someone told him about cremation there may be another funeral because I will have tear off their arms and beat them to death with them.
That is the kind of stuff that you don’t share with a child unless you have cleared it with mom and dad first.