Saturday, September 5, 2009

Doesn't hurt me...

I've been without words the last few days, forcing myself to write.

It's not over yet.

Skipping over headstones in heels, flared skirt, red button-up, black hair braided to one side, keeping it off the back of my neck, the heat, the sweat on my back, carrying the coffin, a being a female pall-bearer is somehow appropriate for my life. A whimper escapes my uncles lips from where he sits in his wheelchair, looking at pictures propped up on the casket, their wedding day when he still had use of his body, when he was still a complete man. Red carnations, the family flower, my father left behind by both his parents and now his sister, cut off from his past, from his family, his base.

In the car, me his companion, he tells me of his days at the brink, riding the edge in bars and clubs in Hollywood, the jail time, the arrests, the fights, the drugs, the alcohol, and how desire for my mother made him turn his life into something different.

I tell him that's not allowed. It's too Hollywood. Didn't he know that he had to become dissatisfied with the idyllic existence she provided and take off after a few months to a year, back to his wild, alpha male ways?

I speak at the funeral, for once my own words.

I am the only speaker who does not cry.

It makes me feel like a fake. Everyone else breaks down, and here I am, detached and watching, speaking only because my father asked me to. My sister speaks after me and becomes so very emotional we cannot understand her words through her tears until my mother comes up and holds her hand.

I came close to crying when my mother broke down. I felt the tears building and knew that if I did choose to allow one or two of them to escape, people would assume I was crying for the loss of my aunt, not realizing that I feel not her loss, but the anguish of others, that I would be crying for the pain that my family feels that somehow escapes me on a direct level, but through them comes back to me.

I do not wish them to hurt.

I stay with my father when he is left alone. I gather and refine the edges to ease the organization for my mother.

Sweat rolls down my back.

Small talk, introductions, I fix the unsnapped suspenders on my great uncle.

My back and shoulders are covered in bite-marks from GV8, from the previous night and earlier that morning. Whenever anyone pats my shoulder or back, I hide my wince. I end up looking like a leopard whenever he is done with me.

I watch. I look for ways to help and monitor movement. I sit in the pew with my family (mother-father-sister-sister's boyfriend-me), ankles crossed, and when we pray, I stare forward.

Red carnations, white roses.

My grandfather's obsession with flowers, vegetables, fruits, anything green and growing, stemming from a childhood spent in South Dakota, where very few things grow.

Red carnations, the gifts to my grandmother, of their perfect, devoted love.

We place them on the casket, we toss rose petals and my mother remarks how the wind always picks up whenever this happens, which is true, but I take no meaning from it.

Scattering, a quick flick of the wrist, I stand on my grandmother's grave.

It has been almost two years since she passed, and I think of the days, the hospital visits, the nights spent in the ICU, reading books and talking in whispers, placing the moistened pick sponges on her lips because she could not take in fluids. And now her body is rotting in the earth.

It makes me hope that her idea of heaven is real, that her god exists for her.

Tonight will be spent cleaning and organizing. I need to exercise some control.

I'll think of lips against my neck, the slight touch of someone's breath upon my skin, and warm hands. I will think of the holes we dig and how that simple action can be such an isolator, and of the man that does not exist, the companionship I will seek with my typical naive hope, and the fear that maybe, one day, I'll realize that I am, indeed, alone, and settle for a false relationship with someone that does not suit, but at least enables me to pretend.


  1. Being on the outside, always looking in, is not a very pleasant thing. It's, simply, a thing. For those of us who are "outside", being "inside" will always remain an elusive objective.

    Perhaps the best one can hope for is to reach an accommodation with the "inside" such that one is left in peace to live one's life. That doesn't mean, however, you should "settle" in order to pretend.

    Be unabashedly yourself.

    Be firm in your convictions.

    Those on the "inside"... The "normal" people... Will either accept or reject your accommodation with the world.

    If they don't?

    Simply move on and through the world.

    Somehow, I don't know that this made any sense, although it did as I was typing it.

    der Beschuetzer

  2. I'm sorry for your family's loss. I don't cry at funerals either. I'm sad for sure, but numb too. When I was in high school, I felt like I should be crying so I made myself cry at one funeral. But then I was secretly ashamed because I was such a fake.

  3. der Beschuetzer,

    That was probably one of the better things I could have read in the mood I was in. Thank you for taking the time to write it- it did make perfect sense.


    I was wondering, briefly, if I should make myself cry, or let myself cry over something else, but I just couldn't do it. For the best, then?