"Was your brother cyberbullied when he was younger?" the smallest sleepover friend queried. Yes, his parents are just that good.
My friend arrived to collect her kids and sit with me while I answered "I don't know." to more questions than I had answers. In the hours that followed, I did not know who to call or what to tell but it turned out to be not much - those kinds of friends summon themselves. I am amazed at the friends who surround me during the dark days.
As my family prepared for the service, the details became the trees - the forest no longer clear. In the midst of formatting a funeral program and organizing flight details, we wanted to find a way to honor Saul's American Indian heritage. When the funeral director returned from the trading post with a Native blanket and sent a photograph of the blanket against the navy blue casket along with a message explaining the Native tradition to wrap your dead in a blanket before burial, I fell apart (or more precisely, fell finally together) with gratitude. In the Native American tradition, it is the job of the living to send the spirit of the dead on its journey - allow it to go, sing it on its way.
As I packed my suitcase to fly to my family, my son went into his room and asked to be left alone. Later he returned to the kitchen red-eyed, his hand holding something and put his arms around me to hug me tight. When he let go he handed me a small organza bag and said, "This is for Saul." I spilled the contents of the bag onto the kitchen table. An i love you, too tab, a sharks tooth, a shell, several polished rocks, two worry dolls, a silver heart, and an arrowhead from Sedona. Basically, all the treasures a boy has. "I see," I said, "You are sending everything Saul needs for his journey."
The other two kids followed his lead and returned from their rooms with treasures for the casket. My youngest put out his silver 'jujus', the little coins I leave with them when I travel, on the table. "I'm not sure about this one," he explained about the butterfly shaped coin stamped with 'spread your wings'. "It's my favorite and I don't know if I want to give it away." His older brother put an arm around him and said, "One thing we have learned is when you give it away, it always comes back to you. You'll see it again even if it does not look the same." Yes, we have learned this. My daughter wrapped her offerings and my friend brought a bundle of sage from the hot springs in the East Sierras for mine.
During the funeral and activities, we honored Saul's life well. We grieved hard and are still grappling with his death. But we also did our best to send his spirit on its way, to wish him well on his journey.
I daydream when Saul arrives in the next place, the people there will say "We have been waiting for you! We could not do this next great thing without you here!" When the people in the next place see the gifts Saul is carrying they will nod knowingly, "Oh, how they love you." They invite him in. The people in the next place know just how to take care of someone carrying a sharks tooth, a shell, a bundle of sage, jujus, polished rocks and blanket.