Friday, May 22, 2009

Time to Say Goodbye


Part of the bedtime ritual requested by our five-year-old, as essential as brushing and flossing, is The Pretend Book. I suspect more than a little of the appeal is the prolonging of the day. Even after lights out, a last-gasp effort at circumventing sleep. And it’s always successful. Can you blame us? The Pretend Book is a Father/Son bonding experience no less potent than my time breastfeeding. The two of them curl up under the covers and our boy says, as if from a script, “Daddy, read me a Pretend Book. Make it about Dizzy and Meggie and Buzz and me.” And off they go, to a familiar land where all good dogs who’ve gone to heaven are resurrected and get another shot at happily ever after.

We’ve been lucky. The Grim Reaper has been a perfect gentleman in the Sliver Household. The only death our five-year-old has had to deal with so far has been of the canine variety, as it should be. It’s strange to think of the death of loved pets as a stroke of luck, but that’s what it’s been. Loss is always hard, but also inevitable. Better we get our first dose in a milder form.

But now it’s time for him, and us, to swallow a harder pill. His Pawpaw died today. Still, Mr. Reaper continues to mind his manners. Who better to be a child's first experience with human death than an elderly grandparent who’s lived a long, rich life? It's as natural as the cycling seasons; we grow old, and we die. Funny how little consolation that bit of logic holds. Sorrow is unimpressed by reason. There's just no escaping the sadness when you lose someone you love. It's sad to suddenly have a void at the epicenter of a family; sad to be missing a part of the recipe that created my sweet husband; sad to imagine a bride of sixty years alone for the first time; sad to see my precious little boy crying tears that won’t go away with a Batman Band-Aid and a kiss.

So it’s no wonder I totally get my son's desire to cling to every last minute he can get with his Daddy each day. My husband's spent the past few weeks doing just that with his Daddy.

But now, it’s time to say goodbye. Rest in peace, Charlie. We love you.

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

~Khalil Gibran



Judy H. said...

Susan Ann, What a beautiful tribute to Charlie. It made me sob. Hug Dan and Daniel for us. We love you all. Mom

stephen said...

Just read this and caught up. I am so sorry for Daniel and all of you.

bloorondo said...

I've probably read this 8 or 9 times, and cried about every other time.

stephanie (bad mom) said...

How lovingly written. Blessings to you all. <3

Dot said...

Perfectly and beautifully said! Hugs to you, Dan and Lito.

Anonymous said...

What will we ever do without him? It hit me like a wet fish in the face, SMACK! I wanted to sit on the rug with my head in my mama's lap and sob but I can't. We have to hold it together for her, because she is hurting most of all. I could finally read this today. Thanks for writing it.

Anonymous said...

I have read this many times, and it makes me cry every time. Right here at my desk at work. But now, it's kind of a good cry. I miss him and Dad so much every day that it hurts, but I know that they loved us with all their hearts and it was returned...and they knew how much we loved them. I went to the VA for the 'Quarterly Memorial Service' (sounds like a management meeting or something), and it was a wonderful service. The hymns made me bawl my eyes out, but the message was GREAT. I know that our boys will grow up and still talk about Paw-Paw and how much fun they had together.

I had to post this anonymously because I'm an idiot and forgot my Google password and/or username, but this is Robin. :)