Nemo's funeral was today.
He was killed two weeks ago crossing the street on his way home from school.
This morning I got to school and went straight to the library (it's my safe place) to chat briefly with my favourite librarians and prepare for the day. I started reading "Someone has died in a road crash: a guide for professionals caring for bereaved children and their families" which is a booklet put out by a charity that does what the title suggests it might. It's full of good information and well written, but I had to go out into the garden for a minute to cry.
There's a condolences book on the table in the library for people to sign and leave messages. Nemo's parent's don't speak English, but seeing the book filled can only be good. (And really, it's more for us anyway. To share in one place.) One of my favourite mothers was there when I came back into the library. Her eldest was signing the book and her middle boy, who has been in my classes the entire time I've been teaching, saw me, flung his arms open, and ran over for a hug. Thank you sweetheart, that was exactly what I needed.
The funeral was at a church near the school, near his home. In the bulletin notice the church said, "Nemo had greatly endeared himself to the 9.30 congregation-- nearly always coming alone, demonstrating a deep faith, sense of curiosity and fun." It turns out he used to take himself to church, and rarely missed a Sunday. It was also clear from the service that he did a remarkable job of connecting with people of all ages and walks of life and built himself a community wherever he was. At one point during the service someone said, "I don't think Nemo knew how loved he was."
It's true. School was closed this afternoon not because the kids were all coming to the funeral, but because all of the teachers and staff wanted to. There weren't enough staff members left in school to be able to keep it open. There are very few children in the school that everyone knows, and Nemo was one of them. Frankly, he might have been the only one. The staff and students walked (with a police escort to direct traffic!) from the school to the church. It felt like a solemn pedestrianized funeral cortege. It felt appropriate.
Nemo was a cellist and loved music. He would frequently be chatting to people and absentmindedly blocking the hallway with his cello on his back like a giant, black, Nemo sized turtle shell. Last year during the Key Stage 2 musical I let him try out my bass, which he loved and always asked me about whenever I saw him.
The service was as lovely as a child's funeral could be. The students sang a song, the readings were translated for his parents, the church was full, and there were stories about Nemo that made us chuckle through our tears.
But still, lets not do that again soon, okay?