Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day+1

Greetings All,

I did my last post on Memorial Day, so it seems like Father’s Day is an appropriate enough time to do this post. You’ll note that this post is not up on Father’s Day, but the day afterwards.  Because…

….we buried Amie’s remains today.  We had some speedbumps on the way towards getting Amie ready for internment, but the time was here, and we wanted to get it all wrapped up before we headed out on our roadtrip (more on that later).

This little guy is Shelley's gravemarker for Amie until the real one arrives later on in the summer.  Isn't she awesome?

The burial (internment is the proper word, but sounds too formal) went well, as it was just her ashes in this fantastic urn Shelley chose.

Shel and Anya read her favorite book, Flip and Flop.  

We’d each read that book to Amie dozens of times, possibly several hundred times in Shelley’s case.  Additionally, Shelley made a tiny little grave marker for her as well.

Afterwards, we went to the monument office to formalize the design for Amie’s gravestone.  Shelley had been doing research, as she does, for a while, and had decided on the rough design that she wanted.  I followed that up with a few artistic design flourishes myself, and we settled on a design today and it’s on the way to the CAD designer for final proofs. 

As an aside, it’s pretty darn cool how the whole process works.  They can incorporate pretty much anything into the design, because it’s all sandblasted into the face of the marble based on the design that’s programmed in. Of course, anything can change, so we won’t spoil anything until we know for sure.  I think y’all will like it.

We gave you a look back when we purchased the site, but this is how it looks in the summer.  Lake View Cemetery in Howell is gorgeous, and probably the prettiest place in Howell…as strange as that is.

Those two pictures are the various views you have as you stand at her grave.  Nice, eh?

So.  Her remains are buried.  Not sure why that was so important to me before we left on our trip…but it seemed like it was just unfinished business.  The Native American influence on me says that her spirit needed to be laid to rest,  and that her lack of a “space” to find that rest was necessary.  I don’t think that’s necessarily how I feel, but I did feel pulled to make the final arrangements for her before we started west.  It settles me, in some deep way.

Afterwards, we went to see “Inside Out”, the newest movie from Pixar.  I love Pixar, as it is nearly always the opposite of what I consider the insane over-commercialization of the movie landscape*.  They do not release movies before they are ready*, and the directors dedicate years of their lives to get them there.  They focus on story, and character development, and almost always* have profound emotional journeys for the audiences who watch their films <the introduction to “Up!” where they tell the love story of the couple is by far the most powerful love story I’ve ever seen on film…and there are no words in it.  Go watch it now.  I’ll wait,>

Anyway, the movie today.  I haven’t cried so much in a movie…forever.  Without a doubt.  Firstly, it was a great movie, as I expected.  But I can’t really say that without bias.

Here are my biases:
  • The main character was ripped out of her comfortable world, where she had everything she ever wanted, by forces that she could not control.  She faced unprecedented obstacles and challenges, and weathered them as best she could, and most of the time with a smile and a shrug.  This is Anya most days.
  • The movie has a huge focus on “core memories”, where there are these glass balls that represent memories, and the importance of them are paramount.  They fuel the centers of Riley’s personality.  When some of them get messed with (Sadness, don’t touch them!), they have profound changes to her personality.  Once again, I thought about Anya, and what this whole thing has done to her core personality.  Who might she have been had all of this not happened, and who is she going to be now as a result.
  • They also spent a TON of time showing these memories in glass balls, and how some of the memories fade, get ejected and fade away when not accessed…and I know that’s the future with a lot of my memories of Amie, the ones that are left that is.  The nature of memory is pretty awful already (thank you Radiolab for confirming that   ), in that every time to “remember” something, you’re subtly changing that memory and shaping it to the new reality that you have.
I say that because the Teen Mom OG special aired thisweek,  and a quick 1-minute-ish video aired of the fundraiser events from last July.  It was very nice to see that, and the events of that day, as many of them had faded in the punishment of the past year.  Seeing Amie tell her favorite knock-knock joke was great, but the thing that blew me away was the .5 second clip of her utter and complete joy when I grabbed her and threw her on my shoulders crushed me.  I’d forgotten, on some level, just how much she enjoyed being on my shoulders.  Seeing the movie, and the memories that were fading, kept hitting me over and over.

Also, were the constant positive memories they kept showing, in these little globes, from Riley’s childhood, juxtaposed with her life now, and how she was dealing with it. Those images, of the past as it was lived in contrast to the memories that Amie will never get a chance to live…more tears.


But at the end of the movie, and the conclusion of the character’s growth that is central to a good story, and thus a Pixar movie*, is the idea that sadness and joy need to live together, need to find room to live and breathe and be allowed to exist in the same space, or else something is broken, and something is wrong.  That’s the goal that I’m trying to find for this summer.  I need to embrace the sadness as well as the joy.  I am supremely good at shutting off my brain, compartmentalizing my feelings, and getting the job done.  That’s what I did for the last 3 months of the school year.

But is that healthy?  Does that help me, or my family, in the long run?  I think not.  I need to find a place where I can let it all live in my heart and my head and my soul, and not be bludgeoned by it when watching a commercial for MasterCard (Just one more day, is that so wrong?!?)  That’s my goal, and I’m going to be working on it for the next few weeks as we head west.

Speaking of heading west, we’re going to take many of the donations that people gave us to “give Anya a lot of great experiences this summer”, and head out on a roadtrip across America.  We’re going to see friends, camp in National Parks, see the kitschiest parts of America, and come home in time for Anya to get to Special Days camp in August.  If you have kitschy America recommendations for us, let us know via email, or comments.  Seriously.

I’d be a total jerk if I didn’t say goodbye today to Connor before I signed off.  

Connor was a kid who had the same diagnosis as Amie, as random as that is, and in the end met the same fate.  He leaves behind a string of family grieving like us, and wondering why the hell that childhood cancer exists.  His funeral was today, in New Jersey.

He fought a good fight, he was an insanely good kid/brother, and never, ever deserved the curse that was laid upon him.  Rest peacefully Connor, you got a rough deal.

With that, I bid y’all adieu, and hope to post again in about a month when we’re in Portland visiting the Kowalewski clan.  J

*  Cars 2 sucks..  It’s ill planned, ill written, and is Disney at it’s worst:  Movies as a way to push toys and consumerism.  Granted, this is just IMHO.