An Up-and-Down Sort of Day

We had an odd sort of day yesterday. We attended a kids' festival in the morning and a memorial service in the afternoon. I started the day by weighing in at Weight Watchers. As a Lifetime Member, I'm only technically required to weigh in once a month. I can get into a lot of trouble during those intervening weeks, though. I'll sure be glad when summer rolls around and I can weigh in wearing shorts. I think you'll agree that the average pair of jeans weighs at least 10-12 pounds. Work with me on this, people!

I ran home, picked up the rest of our little clan, and headed to the kids' festival. We go every year, and we've learned to get there as soon as it opens (before a sea of strollers makes movement all but impossible). Basically we just followed the kid around and tried to ensure that she did not get abducted. She ran from station to station, making crafts and completing obstacle courses, glitter flying behind her in a little cloud. She paused briefly to suck down a Capri-Sun and eat a cookie, and then decided to capitalize on her sugar rush by heading straight to the bounce house. We ran into her Godfather and his family while we were there, so we hung out with them for a while. The kid would've stayed all day, but her dad and I reached "maximum children's event" after three hours and dragged her out the door.

The first year we took A to this festival, she was just 11 months old and could only watch the goings-on from her stroller. Now she all but runs the place. In a few short years, she'll be too old (and too cool) to go. Here's hoping she'll be making glitter crowns for just a little bit longer.

2007 version of the crown

We came home with a bag full of books, flyers, and craft projects. There were several temporary tattoos in the bag. She insisted that her father apply a "U.S. Bank" one to her forearm immediately. As he was affixing it to her skin, I reminded him that I was taking her to a memorial service shortly and that maybe tattoos weren't the best idea. "It's okay, she's wearing long sleeves," he assured me.

The memorial service was for a wonderful woman who attended our fellowship. She died of lymphoma on March 26th. I'm always careful not to say that "so-and-so lost her battle with cancer." The terminology has always makes me wince a bit. To say that someone "lost the battle" seems to imply that they didn't fight quite hard enough. It's simply not a fair fight. It seems there is no rhyme or reason to who makes it and who doesn't.

I debated all week whether or not I should take the kid. She probably doesn't remember Lee, because Lee had not been at the fellowship much in recent months. However, Lee always got a kick out of my daughter and the way she sometimes dances in the aisles during hymns and runs her mouth during storytime. I decided that Lee would have been down with it.

We headed downtown to the building where the memorial was being held. They were receiving visitors from 2-4, with a memorial service at 4 p.m. I decided we would pay our respects, visit for a bit, and then head out before the service started. The building was very crowded; Lee touched a lot of people during her life and it seemed half the town was there. As we made our way inside, I paused to talk to a friend from church. A headed the opposite way and started chatting up some strangers near the bar. "Look at those curls!" I heard one of them say. After a few seconds, I decided I'd better retrieve her. "Oh, she's a doll!" one of A's fans told me. "She was just showing us her tattoo!" Thanks, husband.

We made our way into a small alcove where about a dozen people were watching a slide show of photos accompanied by music. Many of Lee's personal belongings were laid out around the room. It was clear that no one was getting out of that room with dry eyes. I remember many a Sunday at church when Lee would tell the children's story during the service. She would settle into the wooden rocker, a dozen or so children at her feet. She wore these reddish glasses that snapped together between the lenses (a magnet, I suppose). I remember those lenses clicking together and then she would read a story to the kids. She was a master storyteller. In fact, Lee wrote a children's book and there were some copies of it laying around with the other items. There were puppets (she was a puppeteer, among her other talents), a hat she wore during chemo, acorns, and photos laid out on the tables. But somehow, it was seeing those glasses that caused the biggest lump in my throat.

A and I settled into a corner and I read Lee's children's book to her softly. Meanwhile, the crowds continued to pour in. So many that we actually had to wait in line to get back out of the building when it was time to go.

The last time I saw Lee, she asked me, "And how are YOU?" It wasn't just a perfunctory question tossed over her shoulder in passing. She stopped, looked into my eyes, and waited to hear my response. Her colorful knit cap was pulled down to her ears, a visual reminder of what she called "the rude intruder" that was wreaking havoc inside her. "I'm doing well," I responded a bit sheepishly. I may never manage to live my life with as much grace and faith, but it's surely a good reminder to try.