If you ever feel like you need to participate in some vicarious sorrow and heartbreak, something to make you tear-up and sigh (I know, I know, not really on your top 10 things to do) come over to my house. I'll pop in a video cassette tape and we can watch the opening of Requiem. It will help if you know that Requiem is an episode from the last season of The West Wing. It will also help if you were semi-attached to the characters. But if not, I could probably fill you in enough to make you care a little bit about the situation.
I really don't watch T.V. Hardly ever. But until this past May, there was a weekly exception. Sometime on Monday I'd hit play on my VCR to watch the WW episode I'd recorded from the night before. If you're not familiar with the show, Requiem deals with the funeral of Leo McGarry, and the opening is really beautiful. Every once in awhile, I pull out the tape and watch the first 5 minutes, like I did this morning. As I watched, my daughter started asking me questions, the answers to which, I realized, probably seemed a little odd.
"Why are they sad?" she asked.
"Because one of their friends died."
"What are they doing?"
They're going to a funeral."
"What's a funeral?"
"When someone dies you go to a funeral."
"Where is he?"
"He's in that box there. It's called a casket."
"Because that's where you put someone when they die."
"Where are they taking him?"
"To the cemetary. They're going to bury him."
"In the ground. His spirit goes to heaven but his body is in the ground until he gets resurrected."
"Why did he die?"
"Because his heart stopped working."
"And then he couldn't love anymore?"
I love my sweet literalist. No, dear, it wasn't about him not being able to love anymore, just that his body needed his heart to work so that he could live. She wasn't daunted by any of it, she just wanted her answers. The fact that we put people in boxes and then bury them underground was just filed away for her information. Death doesn't bother her, probably because she hasn't really had any close experience with it, but also because she knows it's temporary. She accepts it like a child, with a child-like faith, that we die, and then, we live again.