Thursday, August 24, 2006
The Sweet
At least one good, strong, pure memory has come from all of this.

I was in my group of friends, four moms and five kids. We had just looked at the Falls for a bit, and were walking up Clifton Hill to have lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, when Willem called to tell me about his dad.

My knee-jerk reaction was, "I'll be there as soon as I can." But that meant, not until after lunch when the kids were back in the hotel room - which made it almost 3:30 in the afternoon before I could even consider leaving, and then once you factor in the 90-minute drive plus a Customs stop, and it was very doubtful I could be back in time for bed, and I didn't want to bring the kids. So that didn't happen. But in the moment, I thought it would, and I'm a big believer in letting the kids know what the plan is for the immediate future, so moments later I knelt down to Emily's height to tell her that her Opa died.

She got sad, and asked a few of the standard and inevitable questions. We don't follow a religion, so we've had to come up with an alternative explanation for death. I borrowed a story from Billy Joel (who used this as the basis for his song "Goodnight My Angel," which now always makes me weep), and told her, "As soon as you love someone, a little piece of them comes into your heart, and a little piece of you goes into their heart. They stay as a piece of you, and you stay inside their heart, forever. No matter what. So you know where Opa is now? He's inside your heart. Forever."

That made sense to her. For the rest of the walk to lunch, she was quiet. And as she walked, she held a hand over her heart.