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Friday, November 18, 2005 


Black limousines form a line.

Shaded windows. Tinted miracles. The sky is gray.

Some say it’s to reflect our sorrow but I know it is no such thing. It is December. The sky is always gray.

I drive a different car, but with the same purple sticker on the front. ‘Funeral’. Lights on. Lights off. The policemen clear the streets for us because today we bury her.

We wear black and march up stone steps, through stained glass doors, a blonde girl sings Ave Maria, we form a procession while I look through her.

I don’t remember her voice, only that her mouth made a large O like carolers.

Later I told her it was lovely, but I lied, that day I heard nothing but a weird echoing inside. I remember the coffin floating down the center aisle and the priest spreading his arms wide like Jesus.

In the coffin’s silk lining, she wore her prom dress and slept with her stuffed white Eeyores with the big sad eyes. Did I throw out my own Eeyore later? I might have.

Deaths are long.

There’s the hospital, the mortuary, the church and then the grave. Everywhere you go people say words that you will never remember. What you keep are the visuals, the site of the hole in the ground, the hand of the person holding your arm, but not the person themself.

From the back of the hearst a line of men wearing white gloves and carnations placed their hands around steel rails.

Lifted her up.

Lowered her down.

I wore black heels that sunk into the green ground.

Later the world turned upside down and my aunts ran to catch me, called my mother, laid me in her bed to rest. She no longer lived there so the room was cold, antiseptic. But it didn’t stop me from rising up, sitting gingerly on the edge of the bed, calling my boyfriend to come help me escape the imagined smell of her hair.

Alica, Lisa, Lees. You were born in November, gone in a December too soon, and I still wonder what your children would have looked like.

Happy birthday and good-bye again. The nineteen years we had you went by too fast. One day I was carrying you in my arms while the aunts eyed me suspiciously, holding your hand waiting for the bus, and then we are young women, gossiping about boys, making mistakes at every turn.

I was looking forward to watching you get everything right. That’s the kind of faith I had in you.

I’ve missed not seeing who you would’ve become, and Christmas, has never been the same. Not red and green, but gray like the sky and cold like the ground. I make my lists and forget to exclude your name. Suddenly commercialism bites at my skin and the seasonal decorations seem tinny.

Lees, I tell people I love them now. Out loud. I go out of my way with notes and cards, because I know that I am not a particularly expressive person. I have been accused of being careless with others hearts.

I have accused myself of being careless with yours.

But these things are not brakes for the inevitable, just cushioning for the fall.

Every November and December I remember to celebrate your life, but I take tylenol like candy and forget to call people back. My phone still rings, but it's on silent.

What I have learned is this.

January feels better. It always does.