Monday, June 30, 2008

A Final Goodbye

We took the kids to Don Lehr's memorial service on Saturday and said our final goodbyes. I have been talking to them on and off over the last month about how he died and what it means to die, exactly. They all felt some disbelief, initially, that a father of kids their age could be dead. Lily and Liam were mostly silent, as is their general composure during awkward or emotional times, but Benjamin has thought very openly about this loss and has shared with me, many a night lately, his questions about Don. Most recently he became very concerned with the idea of a heart transplant, like what the hospital ("hossipal") would have done with the "old, broken heart" and how they would have put the new heart in and kept Mr. Lehr breathing in between. Then his thoughts migrated to Don's possessions, like for instance, his deoderant (do not ask me- I have no idea). Ben was perplexed as to what Sharon would do with Don's deoderant- would she throw it away if there was still a lot left in the bottle? or could she sell it- an idea that Ben found personally fulfilling.

The Sombars all did pretty well at the service- Seth, of course, behaving as most one-year-olds and squawking loudly through the first half then beaning some poor old man in front of us on the head with a paper fan (the church had no a/c). Ben spent some time pondering the events then decided that rolling down the pew was a better way of contemplating and remembering our friend. Lily and Liam illustrated many of the churches tithing envelopes (appropriately, thank goodness, with mostly christian themes- like crosses and people praying)- all the while hoping that their mother didn't do anything crazy like speak during open-mic time or sob uncontrollably or begin singing out loud with the band. Tom did the traditional "father-strolling-outside-with the baby who is screaming-routine" and I tried not to fall apart completely- kids really hate to see their parents cry- but there were moments of such sorrow, where the depth of the loss to my pal Sharon, the girls, and Don's other loved ones was so cavernous in its display, that I couldn't help myself.

There were funny parts to the evening, too- Don had requested in his will that there be a party, not a funeral, for him, so the street he lived on was baracaded and filled with tents and lots of food & drink- swell idea if Pittsburgh was not experiencing monsoon-level rains. As the storm hit, with all of the lightening and thunder, many of us were smiling thinking that Don was having a great laugh seeing the masses of us run squealing into his home- he had a remarkable sense of humor. There were amazing rainbows, which have come many times since the day he died, as a sign to Sharon that he was at peace. There were kids everywhere- happy and content to get wet, climb the trees (not during the storm), swing, run in the street, hoola-hoop, and gorge themselves on pop and cake (that would be the children related to me, of course). All in all, we celebrated a terrific man and my kids got to see the end of a life being carried out in a most honorable and joyous way.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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