After we brought Julia to daycare this morning, Alex and I set about the business of mourning Dinoraptosaurus. Alex had the day off from school because the teachers have a professional development day, and the timing couldn't be better in light of last night's traumatic event.
Alex wanted pictures of Dinoraptosaurus (henceforth to be known as D because it's quicker to type) "so I can always remember him," so we went through the digital stuff I had on flickr and on this site, and printed up about 10 pictures. Not just of D, but also of the gecko we had briefly (I don't remember his name.) and the two frogs that we had before we got the other anole...the remaining anole...the vicious killer anole.
Anyway, while the printer slowly spit out the pictures, Alex said he wanted to draw a picture of ALL the lizards and frogs, so he did that while I waited for the photos. I cut the photos apart, and Alex showed me the picture he drew. Sort of a fantasy amphibian/reptilian family portrait. We put that picture on the wall near the lizard tank. So the other lizard can look at it.
Brief detour for a moment:
It's a darned good bet that the other lizard, whom Alex has named Cricket-Catcher but I prefer to call Brutus, couldn't care less about the recently deceased D or any of his predecessors. He just wants to eat. He does not miss D, or think about D at all. But if Alex wants to believe that CC (or B) is grieving, then so be it. I'll play along.
Okay, back to this morning. Next project was for Alex to put up the pictures we'd printed. I told him he could hang them on walls, but not on furniture. His thing was he wanted to put them in the rooms he usually is in, and in places where he could see them easily. To remember.
He started in the dining room. There is one picture on the back of the pantry door. Alex faces this door when he's in his seat at the dinner table.
Next - two in the kitchen. One on the fridge, and one taped to the back door.
Two in the living room. One on the wall next to his bed. One in the basement on the wall near the light switch.
And, my favorite, one in the main floor bathroom, on the wall next to the toilet, about eye-height for anyone who might be spending some quality time in there.
I'd say he covered all the bases.
At one point during the picture hanging, Alex had to put them down and watch cartoons for about fifteen minutes, just to compose himself.
And the last thing we needed to do was the burial.
I told Alex I'd put D in a box and we'd bury him in a flower garden. Alex wanted to make a sign. A marker. So I had to figure out how to go about that.
Oh, and it was pouring rain all morning.
We started with the coffin. Alex took the ziploc body bag out of the fridge (I've been re-reading Patricia Cornwell lately - it seems fitting) and I removed D from inside, and set him down on the table, on his tissue.
Alex cried and said goodbye and cried some more while I taped a Children's Tylenol box together for a coffin. I wrapped D in a sheet of paper towel, slid him inside - perfect fit, by the way - and taped the box closed.
Alex cried some more and I tried to figure out how to make some sort of marker that wouldn't disintegrate in the rain.
I melted a popsicle under hot water so I could use the stick. And I used D's ziploc body bag to cover the construction paper marker (which I glued to the popsicle stick).
Alex dictated the words to me and I wrote them down as he spoke.
The marker (in case you can't read it clearly) says:
I'm gonna bury you at my house.
You had wonderful friends.
I am crying."
I wrote "Love," and Alex signed his name.
Beside the marker is D's coffin.
D was laid to rest outside in front of the sunken boat in the big garden in our front yard. Alex held the umbrella while I dug cold mud with a trowel and my fingers. I placed the box in the hole and covered it back up with dirt (okay, mud), and stuck the marker behind the mound. We placed a stepping stone that Alex made last summer on top of the mound, and once again we bade D farewell.
There have been more bouts of crying as the day has gone on, but already they are coming with less frequency and for a shorter duration.
In between the tears, he wants to know when we can get another lizard - "another friend for Cricket Catcher." I'm leaving that timeline up to Bill. He's in charge of all the fish, frogs and lizards in the family.
I'm in charge of their funerals.