The day I returned to work, I sat on the edge of tears. Controlled, but grieving. When my boss mentioned something about the death, an image emerged unbidden. I saw the future, our cold stove, where we once cooked together, only a summer ago, now covered in empty loveless pots. It was that moment in which I wanted to cry the most.I remember the amusement I felt at the thought of having two funerals. One in this foreign, familiar home, another in the warmth of my homeland.
I sit in the funeral, watching the images of her life waltz slowly across the screen. The impish girl high up in the tree, the young headmistress laughing contentedly with her friend, the sweet smile of her newly married soul, the gigantic laugh caught mid-shot, as we celebrate her 75th birthday. I look at the shell in the casket, and I understand. This is not the end. This was her time. Her chance to rest. Her moment to sleep, relieved from the pain she never spoke of. It’s a small comfort at the time, but we all know. The disease eating her from the inside, can hurt her no more.
It is not the second funeral that offers the finality. It is not the image of the stones closing around her casket. It is the memory of my aunt breaking down in tears, as she tries to begin her speech. It is the memory of my cousin, hugging his father, face in his chest, as he tries to hide his tears. It is the silence that now lies, as the empty spot on her bed remains. It is the sight of her empty chair, as we unconsciously glance at its emptiness. It is the sight of all her clothing, some yet untouched, as we empty out the draws. It is the feeling of loss, as I smell her laundered sweater, the one she wore when she was admitted to the hospital. It is the feel of her palamino, as I rub it between my fingers. It is the sight of her lovely pictures, as they face me on the wall.
Kadeen Nichelle Oksana Waldron
Thursday, June 14, 2012.