I remember the first time I saw her. I was five years old and I was infatuated. She had a beautiful blue ball gown on and her hair was done in a perfect little blonde bun. I just could not leave Disney World without her. So what happened next you ask? Well, my father bought me my Cinderella Barbie doll and I took her home and we were best friends.
You see, I was that little girl who spent every waking moment playing Barbies. Maybe it was the cool Barbie dream house or maybe I just wanted the little pink dresses all to myself. But I really loved my Cinderella Barbie doll. She didn’t look exactly like Barbie. Her eyes were a little bigger and face a little rounder. She just had that whole ‘Princess’ vibe. And let’s face it, at twenty-two I still want to be a princess. So I loved her the most and I played with her the most. And then her head fell off.
And I cried. I cried and my dad tried to put her head back on but it was no use; I’d lost her. So I did what your normal five-year old little girl would do. I went into my closet, took out a pair of shoes from the shoe box and proceeded to make a casket for Cinderella. We buried Cinderella in my backyard. I think my father went along with it to make me feel better. And it did make me feel better. Is closure something that a five-year old can grasp? Who knows. I just saw it as normal. When my hamster died, we buried him. When my goldfish died we sent him to the big fishbowl underground. When my parakeet died my grandmother put him in a box and proceeded to take myself and my brother into the pet store and yell at the clerk for selling her grandchildren a sick bird. We ended up getting a new bird but that’s a whole different story…
It was always normal for me, this whole ‘death thing’. And although I did not fully understand the entire meaning behind it when I was young, I still held the traditions of funerals as an important part of life. Josiah and I often joke that when we have a little girl we’re going to dress her up as a funeral director one year when she’s young for Halloween. We’ll get a little black suit, slick her hair back and give her some funeral home business cards. Well, let me day this; he jokes about it. I’m 100% serious. Maybe this is my sick sense of humor showing up at inappropriate times. Whatever the reason, I’d still think it’d be really funny. (Picture it, the little old lady would giver her candy and she’d give her back a funeral home business card! Okay, I’ll stop now. I know I ‘took it to far’ and ‘I’m probably going to Hell’ and ‘blah, blah, blah’.)
Well, I think the point I want to make is that I hope my kids are as familiar with death as I was. When their pets die I will want them to hold a funeral. Heck, I’ll be the first to grab the shovel, a prayer book and gather everyone to pay their final respects. I don’t want them to be nervous or uncertain when someone passes away. I want them to understand that the traditions that our community have are meant to honor and respect the dead. My dad let me bury my Barbie. He didn’t laugh at me when I made her a casket. And let me tell you, laying Cinderella to rest when she passed away was exactly what I needed at the time. So if burying a Barbie doll will help my children deal with the idea of death, then by-golly I will bury all the Barbie dolls that they want.