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|Family Matters - Page 3|
When I called, P.J. arrived dressed in a suit and tie, right on time for this occasion, accompanied by a younger colleague. Only his familiar presence made it possible for me to let Zack be taken from his bed, from our home. He gently wrapped my boy in his train sheets, made sure that Bumby was in Zack's arms, and placed him on a gurney. Zack had found his very own Charon, so that I could let him cross the Styx without me.
And it was P.J. who took us for a final, secret ride in Griffith Park. He picked a time when he knew the place was empty and the caretaker away, for the rule we were breaking this time was a state law. My boy was in a small box on my lap instead of the seat in front of me. We rode through the echoing tunnel, along the fence covered with brilliant bougainvilleas, under the trees, until we came to the trestle bridge over the green meadow. P.J. made sure the coast was clear before he cut the engine. After Zack's ashes had been scattered, he said, shaking his head and smiling, "I'm 83 years old; been in the funeral business all my life, but I've never seen anything like this."
Perhaps he was tickled to be part of a caper. But I think he was moved that, instead of his accustomed venue—a cemetery—we'd chosen a place he and Zack both loved. We'd never know if Zack would outgrow his passion for trains. Now he was forever part of this playground, built by, and still belonging to, P.J. and the other boys who had managed to stay alive in men's bodies.
Anna Belle Kaufman, M.F.A., M.A., M.F.T., A.T.R.-B.C., is an artist and an art psychotherapist in Sebastopol, California. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.