Clem could not go to sleep tonight. I’m sure she was exhausted; she was a fragile, teary mess today from the moment I picked her up from school, angry at me for the slightest perceived affront and for nothing at all. She actually said she was tired at one point, which she NEVER does. The five year olds in her class all got to take a walking field trip to the library today, and that may have tired her out. Also, she got to sleep late the previous night. Whatever it was, the kid needed sleep.
First she decided that it couldn’t be bedtime because it was still light out. That is the one thing that really sucks about summer. It’s hard to argue with that notion, and yet, they need to go to sleep. Then she decided we needed to sleep with our heads at the foot of the bed (yes, I still go to sleep with her, I know…) and everything needed to be rearranged. Then she decided that she was hungry, no, STARVING, STARVING TO DEATH, and absolutely had to eat. (Mean Mom said Tough Luck.)
Then she decided she needed to think. So she announced that she needed to think and got up and got into the rocking chair, which she declared is now her Thinking Chair, and sat and rocked for a minute, sucking her thumb and thinking. She would not tell me about what: it was secret. Then she declared that she thinks best upside down, and she proceed to place her head on the seat and press up into a very precarious headstand – remember, it’s a rocking chair –and think upside down for several minutes. I should not have indulged this but it was too shocking and adorable to stop. She had a running commentary going designed to convince me that this was something she does frequently. “Sometimes I do this because the blood goes to my head and it helps me think…Sometimes I have to put my hands on the arms of the chair to steady myself…It’s hard to stay up on your head sometimes because the chair moves a lot.” The whole thing seemed very Pippi-inspired, but we haven’t read Pippi in months, and I don’t think it was ripped off entirely from her playbook. Despite the commentary, she did find some quiet moments and appeared to think about something, and after a bit she came down and got back in bed. She still thrashed around for far too long, but eventually drifted off.
Demerits for spazziness, but points for style!
After tests on Monday which came back really bad, we took her in on Tuesday to be euthanized. She had been unable to move and barely able to lift her head for a couple of days at that point. I said goodbye to her and apologized for being pretty bad kitty mommy to her. I probably didn’t really need to be that for her; Chris was such a devoted and loving dad. We took her body home and Chris waited while I went and got Clem from school. Clem got to pet her body and say goodbye, and then we wrapped her in an old cloth (a monkey printed sheet that was wrapped around the cushions of a loveseat my mom had when I was a kid, so older than even Bean) and put her in the hole Chris had dug out back right next to where Bool, her brother, is buried. We each put in flower (a giant red cactus bloom) and I read One Art, one of my favorite poems. Then Chris filled in the dirt, and we planted a Sweet Box over her, a shade loving plant I’d never heard of before, but one we found on a walk down to the garden center earlier that day. It’s a winter blooming plant, so we’ll need to check on it in January and maybe we’ll get some nice blooms.
Clem has taken it well. On Monday, when I told her that Bean was probably going to die, her questions indicated a lot of anxiety about her own death: Will I know when I’m going to die? Will I be afraid? What if I die when I’m a kid? (That one was painful to hear.) By Tuesday, she seemed to have worked most of that out, and was engaged and sensitive to our feelings, but not overtly sad. It’s only been in the last year or so that Bean has even let Clem pet her, but I do think she was attached to her. Clem showed no anxiety when petting her dead body, and was very sweet and supportive during the burial. When I told her she’d died, Clem’s second or third question was “What day and year is it? We should write that down,” which oddly was pretty much what Andre said when I told him too. I guess the instinct to mark time comes early. Clem made a sign for Bean’s grave. She really liked making something for her.
Goodbye, Bean. We’ll miss you.
Bedtime, after reading the first couple of chapters of Little House in the Big Woods:
“Mommy, what does butcher mean?”
“Well, when you butcher a hog, you kill it and cut it up so you can eat it.”
“Yes but what does butcher mean?”
“It means kill and cut up.”
“Mommy, when you’re dead, can you think?”
“I don’t know, baby, I’ve never been dead.”