Katherine and I had a long, hard day today. It was one of those days that you never look forward to, but you have to live through. One of those difficult days that force you to grow up.
Last week, a 10 year old girl from our school died after a long battle with cancer. That is always so hard to understand. Ten years really is not long enough... Today Katherine and I went to Alyssa's funeral. It was beautiful, as funerals go, but it was just... hard. Funerals are always difficult, but funerals of sweet, beautiful 10 year olds from strong, wonderful families that you know are impossible. The most difficult moment for me was seeing Alyssa's 4 year old sister (and one of my sweet students) in her mother's arms looking down at her big sister's casket. It doesn't take any leap of imagination to think of my own child lying there and the scene was just too close to my heart. Katherine fell apart half way through the service. I just held her and kissed her and told her I love her. What else was there to do?
Katherine had many, many questions. Some were about Alyssa. Most were about the church and the service. My little Methodist had never been in a Catholic church, so I had to explain why there was "a dead body" on the cross, why they rang bells at communion, why there was no choir, why we couldn't take communion, why people knelt, why anyone would want to stink up the church with incense. It was kind of nice to have these questions to distract me.
We tried to make the rest of the day a little lighter. Granny met us for lunch and then we did some shopping to expand Kate's cold weather wardrobe. That was good therapy.
We ended the afternoon by driving into the city to visit my uncle, who is in the middle of chemotherapy. Uncle Gary is in a hotel room near the hospital and absolutely miserable, but he wanted to see us for a minute. Katherine was a little scared about that, but she went in and was relieved to see that Gary still looks like Gary ("except whiter than usual"). I was just glad to be able to help lesson Aunt Sonja's stress and brighten her day a little. I love spending time with Gary and Sonja, even in such unpleasant circumstances. They live hours away, so I am grateful to be close enough to visit often while Gary is in treatment.
I tucked Katherine in to bed tonight and told her how proud I was of her and how she had handled this difficult day. I know that pain and heartache make you a stronger and better person, but it is still hard to watch your child go through it. I told Katherine how much I loved her and then I just lay beside her and held her for a while. Because I could.