8/31 The Book of August

One would imagine that in the midst of all of this grieving the mind would be so preoccupied as to not notice the innocuous, the seemingly unimportant detail.  But such is not always the case.  The mind and the heart can not be depended on to behave in the expected way–if it could, life would be far more predictable.  At any rate, a limo was sent from the funeral home to my motel.  It was decided that Mary, my niece Tracie and I would take the limo to the funeral home.  As we stepped outside the lobby on that morning of August 31st, 1989, the three of us stopped simultaneously and stared.  For a long moment, no one said anything.  Then quietly one by one we each whispered our thoughts.  “I thought it would be black.”  I thought it would be white.”  “I thought it would be black or maybe silver.”  There, before us stood the chauffeur, or funeral home attendant or whatever he was, holding open the door of a turquoise limousine with gold-colored trim. Oh, my!  Holding hands the three of us stepped inside quietly, each of us probably fearing we might burst out laughing.  I had this desperate thought–Oh, it had all been a joke after all–Debbie really wasn’t dead after all.  That wrinkled-skinned hand with the little nails turned up just so, attached to a rotting-meat-smelling body that I had held and cried over wasn’t really Debbie after all!  No! No!  It hadn’t ever happened.  There wasn’t any body.  This couldn’t be real.  How could that little baby I’d given birth to 16  short years ago be torn and swollen and bled to death?  This can’t be real!  The door clicks shut–shutting out all but the indescribable pain.

After a beautiful and simple service at the funeral home where we played some of Deb’s favorite music and her eulogy was given by her high school math teacher, we headed for the cemetery for a brief ceremony.  My Unitarian minister spoke of Debra’s dream of being a marine biologist.  And that is when I looked forward.  I had been experiencing only the present pain, but then is when I realized there would be so many unfulfilled dreams…….

It was raining, so instead of being on the distant hill, the bagpiper was under the tent with us, which was a little close.  At the end I stood up and started spontaneously pulling the white roses from her casket arrangement and  giving one to each of the women present.  They probably all thought I was crazy.  That’s what the look on their faces said.  But I continued and at one point I turned around to find dad bent over, looking under the casket.  You know, to see if they had even dug a hole, ’cause they’re gonna resell the casket!.  “Dad, please just go sit down before you fall in.”

We adjourned to the girl’s dad’s place for food but I didn’t stay long.  The fishing jokes were a bit much for me.  My family left quickly as they had a long drive home and I went back to the cemetery alone.  It had stopped raining and as I approached her fresh grave the sun came out.  I stood just looking at the mud and the flowers and  remembered the first time I spoke to her.  It was when she was 2 days old.  I was nursing her and realized that I had never said anything to her.  Until then I had just always stared at her quietly in amazement.  I remember self-consciously saying “Hello Debbie.  Welcome to the world.”  Now what was there to say.  I thought for a bit and then spoke aloud.  “Debbie, you know how much I love you, but you can’t stay now.  You’ve got other worlds to visit…..but if there’s one thing that you can do for us then help me with Mary.  Help me to be a good mother to her.”  I looked up and flitting along right towards me came a monarch.  It drifted right past my face and I turned and watched it disappear.

6 Responses to “8/31 The Book of August”

  1. Roxann Hutchison Says:

    You write the truth and my heart breaks for you.


  2. You have been. The Best.


  3. I would like to share my story with you…just starting a blog.


  4. A monarch butterfly…how perfect. I don’t believe in coincidences like that. Love you.

    Peace, Love & Joy,


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