#26: Claudia and the Sad Good-bye

Uh oh. Get your Kleenex ready… “sad” is in the title. And it seems clear from the get-go that Mimi is not doing well. She’s increasingly forgetful, mentally mixed-up, and just not herself. Something bad is about to go down.

In the meantime, though, something good happens – Claudia decides to host a Saturday art class for some baby-sitting charges, with some help for Mary Anne. She can put her talents to good use, make some money, and show that the BSC can offer more than just baby-sitting.

At dinnertime, Claudia and Mimi prepare a multi-course meal and set the table all fancy, but before they’re halfway through dinner Mimi slumps over and Claudia has to call an ambulance. Mimi is semiconscious, disoriented, etc. and has to be admitted to the hospital. After a few days and a blood transfusion, Mimi is back home and doing a bit better. Still, Claudia is the one who has to cancel all her activities and watch Mimi. As much as she loves her grandmother, she resents a little bit feeling like her maid.

On the good side, her Saturday art class goes well. Corrie Addison, Jamie Newton, Myriah and Gabbie Perkins, Carolyn and Marilyn Arnold, and Matt Braddock all show up and have fun. It goes well, but Claudia kind of feels bad for Corrie. Corrie doesn’t know where her Mom is or why she shuttles Corrie to all these classes, and then Mrs. Addison shows up half an hour late to pick Corrie up. Cuuuurious. One cool thing is that Corrie and Claudia bond over loving Nancy Drew.

At the next art class, the kids are all working on papier maché when Mimi comes down to the basement to see what they’re up to. Before Claudia can pull out a chair for her, Mimi faints again. Suddenly it’s chaos. Mary Anne has to get the kids out of the house and bring them home, while Claudia calls the paramedics and she, Janine, and Mr. Kishi take care of Mimi and explain things to the EMTs. Mimi is whisked off to the hospital, and Corrie is super upset from across the street, where she’s waiting with Mary Anne for Mrs. Addison to pick her up. Corrie says “Claudia must be so sad”. This time, Mrs. Addison is forty-five minutes late to pick up Corrie.

Things with Mimi are looking grim. She has dizzy spells, she has spasms of pain, her mind is still really mixed up, and she oscillates between her usual loving self and the behavior of a petulant child. Still, she does tell Claudia she loves her. Later, after getting more fresh blood, the doctors say Mimi can go home the next day. Mimi calls Claudia and they have a short chat, ending with Mimi saying “Good-bye, my Claudia.” When Claudia wakes up in the morning, Mimi is dead.

The whole family is devastated, of course, and Claudia has to tell the BSC and her family members. People start pouring in with casseroles, and she wants the BSC to hold their meeting as usual so she can feel like life is normal; Janine even sits in on it so she doesn’t have to be alone. All the while, Claudia feels guilty for every time she was ever rude to Mimi or didn’t spend time with her.

I would like to quickly point out that Kristy misspells Mary Anne’s name in her notebook entry:

BSC-26-MISTAKE

Yeah right.

Mary Anne has the girls over after the Friday BSC meeting to order pizza and hang out while her dad’s out on a date with Dawn’s mom. They end up reminiscing and sharing their favorite Mimi stories, remembering Mimi in a fun and positive way. At one point, Corrie calls to talk to Claudia – she has an old lady baby-sitter that she doesn’t like. Claudia gives her some advice and then rejoins her friends. It’s been a good night, but the next day is Mimi’s funeral so it ends on a glum note.

Claudia feels kind of numb during the services for Mimi. She doesn’t really cry, and she doesn’t pay much attention. She still doesn’t want to believe Mimi is gone. She takes Mimi’s portrait off the wall and puts it in the attic so it doesn’t feel like Mimi is watching her. All the members of the BSC – even Stacey – come to the funeral and to Claudia’s house after. It starts off a little awkward because no one knows what to say, but it’s good that Claudia eventually gets to spend some time with just her bestie Stacey.

Claudia has a hard time going back to school because everyone’s weird around her and no one knows what to say. But she finds solace in her Saturday art class. Corrie turns out to be a really good artist, and her papier maché puppet is way better than the other kids’ puppets. She says she’s going to give it to her mother when she’s done, because she knows it will please her mother. Is her mother Mommie Dearest?! The BSC think it’s kind of good that Corrie is so attached to Claudia, because Claudia is filling a hole in Corrie’s life and, maybe right now, Corrie is filling the Mimi-hole in Claudia’s life. But as Kristy warns, surely not with “that’s what she said” in the back of her mind, “You have to watch it when you let someone fill a hole.” She warns Claudia not to just drop Corrie when she starts feeling better about Mimi.

On the day when the kids finish their puppets, Corrie is all excited to give it to her mother. But, as usual, her mother is late to pick her up – over two hours late. Claudia and Janine feed Corrie lunch and talk to her, but it’s easy to see how broken Corrie is from the lack of her mother’s attention and affection. Corrie gives her Nancy Drew puppet to Claudia instead. Claudia knows that at least she was lucky to fully feel Mimi’s love before Mimi died. Still, Claudia’s having a hard time dealing with her emotions. She feels tired all the time, she’s having trouble concentrating, and her grades are slipping – but no one’s calling her on it, which just makes her angry. Wouldn’t Mimi want her to do well?

Claudia finally explodes when she sees Janine going through Mimi’s jewelry. She yells at Janine, and even yells that she hates Mimi, which leads to a family meeting. Claudia verbalizes for the first time – even to herself – that she’s angry at Mimi for living them, and feels like she just “gave up” and died, partially because she was mad at Claudia for making her feel like a nuisance. Her family listens but then talks her out of these irrational things; Janine even finds an obituary that Mimi had been preparing for herself – she knew she was going to die. Claudia feels a bit better, and the Kishis finally begin to go through Mimi’s belongings, many of which were already labeled individually with the initials of to whom they should now belong.

After the next art class, Claudia confronts Mrs. Addison (in private) about how she treats Corrie and how Corrie seems to be feeling about everything. Mrs. Addison starts crying and then decides to tour the art room and take Corrie and her brother to the ice show, instead of having a “day off” (again) with her husband. Go Claud!

Claudia has started healing, and has made a special “Mimi collage” that all the BSCers and the Kishis love. Claud’s parents allow her to hang it in Mimi’s room (which will now become a guest room) to keep Mimi’s spirit alive. Meanwhile, the kids in the art class have also made a special “Mimi collage mural” for Claudia, which joins Claud’s mural in Mimi’s room. Claudia is finally at peace with Mimi’s death, and brings Mimi’s portrait down from the attic to hang in her bedroom once again.

(P.S. A little more foreshadowing: Mary Anne’s dad and Dawn’s mom have pretty much stopped seeing other people and are spending more time together, while on the flip side Stacey’s parents have been arguing more and more and spending more time apart.)

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