“The Going Away Party”



Dressed in his black Superman costume and not looking a day over 28, Kal-El, last survivor of the planet Krypton stood to witness the burial ceremony of Clark Joseph Kent and his Wife Lois Lane Kent who had died within hours of each other 3 days before … or so people believed. Lois had been unconscious for a week before passing and Kal-El had decided not to continue to live on as Clark Kent any longer. In many ways, Clark had indeed died with Lois, so the lie was very close to the truth. Kal-El stood opposite the gravesite from the surviving family members with the few friends and acquaintances that chose to pay their respects. Many who may have come to console a surviving spouse, didn’t come for the ceremony. Very few of Lois and Clark’s close friends still lived. So Kal-El was practically alone as he watched his family while playing the role of a close family friend. Superman still had many enemies and his two sons and four daughters had their secrets to keep, so Kal-El chose for Clark to die hoping that a portion of his grief would die with him. So far, it wasn’t working. Superman had literally pushed planets around, but his grief felt greater than any load he had ever borne before.

Kal-El wanted more than anything to stand with his family as the ceremony continued. His mighty legs trembled and he feared that he could not stand on his legs long enough to get through the next few minutes, but he focused on his fears and concerns for Laney right now and that made it possible for him to endure. Laney’s love for his Nana knew no bounds. Kal was afraid that when Laney found an expression for his grief that that would be without bounds as well. Kal couldn’t handle his own grief so he hadn’t any idea how to help Laney with his. The ceremony was very moving and there were only two dry eyes in the house … and both of them belonged to Laney. Kal was nervous as he studied Laney’s smiling face. Kal was more powerful with each passing year, but through some genetic circumstance, Lane Lewis Adams at age five was the most powerful of his descendants with strength and abilities rivaling his own. Laney could easily destroy worlds and the loss of his Nana could trigger him to do so – and Kal would have a hard time stopping him. Yet Laney smiled and tried to comfort his mother, father, uncles, aunts and cousins. Laney had never lied to his Papa Clark about anything, so when Laney swore that he wouldn’t dig up Lois, Kal believed him. But maybe Laney had another plan that would make sense to a five year old but never occur to an adult.

The caskets were lowered into the ground and the guests filed by the gravesite and said their words of condolences to the family. Kal worked his way through the small crowd to see his sons and daughters and said words to them that a family friend might say. He asked his daughter Joan if he could take Laney for a little walk. She agreed and Laney seemed anxious to go with his great grandfather.


As they started walking through the cemetery, Laney asked, “Is Jimmy here?”

Kal asked, “Jimmy who?”

Laney said, “You wouldn’t forget Jimmy would you. He went away so you wouldn’t have to. He was your pal, Jimmy … Oldman?”

Kal asked, “Jimmy Olsen?”

Laney said, “Yeah! That’s it. Is he here somewhere?”

Kal said, “Yes he is. Did Nana tell you about him? I don’t think I did.”

Laney said, “Nana told me a little but it was the Lakota guy who didn’t make chief who liked Jimmy a lot who told me things. Can I see where Jimmy is?”

Kal was used to not always understanding Laney. He would often wait until Laney was home to ask Lois what he had meant. Lois and Laney could communicate with looks and gestures but Kal had to work at it. Kal decided that he would ask Lois later about this “Lakota” reference -- then felt a stab in his heart when he remembered an instant later that he couldn’t. Kal composed himself and said, “Jimmy is over here.” He led Laney to a gravesite where a life-size statue of Jimmy Olsen stood on a low pedestal and said, “That’s Jimmy. I carved that statue myself. His last words to me were “I’m glad to have died like this … knowing that I helped the world keep its Superman.” I wouldn’t have lived long enough to have children if he hadn’t given his life for mine. I named your Uncle Jim after him. If it wasn’t for him, you wouldn’t be here today.”

Laney said, “Well I would have been SOMEwhere!”

Kal said, “I don’t think you understand.”

Laney answered, “I DO understand. But anybody who thinks that they know anything for sure is a fool. I won’t look like that statue when I grow up, will I Papa?”

Kal said, “No, I think you will look like your Uncle Pete.”

Laney said, “That’s good.”

Kal said, “I notice that you are pretty happy today.”

Laney said, “I WANT to be but it’s hard being happy like Nana said when everybody is acting like big babies. They’re grown up but it’s like they don’t understand ANYTHING!”

Kal said, “I know you promised but I have to ask anyway. You’re not going to try to get Nana out of the ground are you?”

Laney said, “She’s not in the ground!” Kal’s head snapped around. A quick glance with X-ray vision showed that Lois’s body was still in her casket. He was at once relieved that Laney hadn’t removed her and caught unprepared to see Lois again without preparing himself emotionally. He hung his head and slumped his shoulders under the weight of his grief. Laney said, “She’s not there. Why did you look there? She is someplace that’s beautiful. That’s just her old, used up body in the box. She’s got a new body now that is even younger than Mommy’s. She feels great and she’s pretty and she’s happy visiting old friends.”

Kal asked, “Who told you that?”

Laney answered, “Nana.”

Kal said, “I’m glad. I didn’t think she had a chance to talk to you before she died.”

Laney said, “Nana didn’t die! I thought you knew. You should know it as old as you are and because you were where she is now a few times.”

Kal kneeled down and looked his great grandson in the eye and said, “I’m sorry Laney. I don’t want her to be dead either, but she IS and we have to face it.”

Laney snickered at his Papa’s ignorance and said, “Nobody dies. Nobody ever did. Nobody ever will.”

Kal said, “That’s not true Laney. You love history. You know that billions of people have lived and died over the centuries. On the planet I came from, billions died in a single day. Look around you. Almost every monument here has the remains of someone who died below it.”

Laney said, “That isn’t them. When I throw out my old clothes that’s not me going in the trash – that’s something I used up and don’t need anymore. If you mean that someone who goes away for a while is dead then it’s OK to say she’s dead. But if you mean that she isn’t anywhere at all, you are WRONG! Nana told me that and don’t tell me that she was wrong because I know better. She also told me that anybody who thinks they know anything for sure is a fool. If you want to be a fool because you believe she doesn’t exist anymore then I can be a fool that believes what my Nana told me. You buried my Papa Clark today but he isn’t dead, is he?”

Kal said, “That’s something entirely different. You know the secret identity game we all play. I’m not dead, but your Nana is gone.”

Laney said, “Yep. She’s gone, but she’s coming back and I’m going to be her Daddy this time! She wants you to wait for her. She says she’s getting recycled … OH! … and she said that the trash man comes early Wednesday morning so don’t forget to put it out Tuesday night!”

Kal said, “Oh, no. Laney ….”

Laney said, “SHE TOLD ME and I believe it. Nana doesn’t tell fibs!”

Kal asked, “When did Nana tell you this?”

Laney answered, “Three days ago in my bedroom at home. Mom hadn’t let me visit her for a week so she came and visited me and brought her friends for a party. She looked like Nana when she came but she showed me a magic trick and made herself all young and pretty even without that boy who cured the horse!”

Kal said, “Laney, please don’t …”

Laney said, “Oh, and Pete the Vice President said to tell you that he never did tell anyone no matter what and he’s still got your back. He’s staying at your side forever and won’t leave for Witch’s Tall again. And Perry, that Lakota guy who didn’t become Chief because of his wounded knee … he told me to tell you that you could have trusted him with your secret but that he forgives you. That Perry guy kept calling me Jimmy … said I used to be this Jimmy Olsen guy you made the statue of.”

Kal asked, “Perry White?”

Laney said, “Yeah. He didn’t stay at the party long. He left with Julius Caesar and that guy that sung about blue shoes.”

Kal said, “Why didn’t she visit me? Why wasn’t I invited to the party?”

Laney said, “Nana said you were stuck in the mud. She said that you don’t believe in things enough. She said if she could believe that a man could fly, that you should believe in heaven … especially since you went there a couple times until they decided to send you back.”

Kal said, “Tell me about her visit from the beginning. What happened”

Laney said, “I already told you most of it. Mom got a vid-call and she got all upset and started crying and sent me to my room. I was scared because Mom doesn’t EVER cry! Then Nana knocked on my door and asked if she could come in. I figured that Mom was upset because the house was messy and Nana came over before she could clean. But I was happy that Nana came all the way down under … that’s what they call Australia … just to visit me. Then we had a going away party with some of her friends. She told me all about what was happening and where she was going and when she was coming back. She showed me this woman who she said was going to be her Mommy next time. She had beautiful red hair and I liked her a lot. The red haired woman is being re-cycled soon. Then Nana asked if I would be her Daddy when she came back. She said that I would have to be strict and keep her in line but still give her freedom enough to learn what she needs to know. And when she comes back next time, she will be like us and won’t have to go away anymore. Did you know that Pete was Abe Lincoln once and that Perry was in the Lakota tribe?”

Kal said, “No, I didn’t know that. I was just a fool that thought I knew everything. But I am SO glad that you set me straight. Let’s go have lunch!”

Sometimes even a Superman – like a normal, average man, can find comfort in the words and simple faith of a child.

The End