It’s a bright Saturday morning in April. Our almost five-year-old is currently everything at once. Our 12-year-old Keeshond has been gone for one week. I combine these two facts and we hold a dinosaur memorial service. Grieving can be a therapeutic social activity, but we don’t hold a Boumie memorial service with the people who knew and loved him. They’re scattered far and wide. Instead, the dinosaurs have meandered into a circle atop the dining room table. A bowl of cut strawberries is their centerpiece. They take turns remembering Boumie. He loved being outside. Just lying in the sun, feeling the breeze. He loved eating. He ate everything you gave him, sometimes without chewing. He used to love running, back when he was in his prime. His wild instincts channeled toward an orange rubber ball.
Rebelle Harmony speaks for the other dinosaurs. How Boumie went to the park with them, went on the swings with them, took a nap in the grass with them. I’ve already done the sobbing part. The vulnerable and cathartic work of honoring him in my own words. From the beginning and through the phases of our lives. How he held us all together, kept us going. The shared days and the walks that bookended those days. Back to October, 2009. There isn’t time to sit with the grief now. Rebelle Harmony wants him to come back. She wants to write him a letter. To help her process his absence and keep the love in her heart, too. We give the rest of our speeches and move into the rest of Saturday.
We’re recovering from losing Boumie and life will continue to hand us more to recover from. We make plans for Sunday with a friend and his daughter. An amusement park for young children. A carousel, an old-fashioned prop plane ride. A mini-rollercoaster, which brings me no amusement, though I’ll white-knuckle my way through it just for my daughter. The friend’s daughter comes down with a bug. It’s just us. Daddy and Rebelle Harmony in the Sunday sunshine.
When I went back to Boston recently, Grammy left two old San Francisco Giants caps on the guest bed. Grammy doesn’t throw anything out. I wore these caps when I was 13 and 14 as a member of the Giants in my town’s senior league. They still look new because, as a Red Sox fan, I never wore them off the field. In the Bay Area, the Giants caps outnumber the A’s these days. Rebelle Harmony loves that we can wear matching caps. She says, “Giants caps! We’re on the team!” Her cap falls off because she has thick, wavy hair that now reaches the small of her back.
We buy our tickets for the amusement park. I prop her down in her prop plane, the Ruby Flyer. The ride begins. She soars up to cruising altitude, nine or 10 feet. After a few orbits, she lowers the plane back down to earth. The ride ends. We parents go in and unstrap their children. Which ride will be next? Planes, cars, horses, trains. We want to move. We want to feel the wind brushing past our cheeks. We want to witness life as a blur, the way our memories work. And on and on. The way Boumie took off and chased life, only to return, panting and laughing. And learning to accept the fact that every ride ends.