I caught the image out of the corner of my eye while driving; a post-Memorial Day cemetery. The green manicured grounds spreading so far the edges curved. The entirety of it dotted with cheaply potted flowers, chunky emeses of color in the short grass…
The people in the ground, the flowers out walking.
No matter how hard I tried to ignore it and focus on the hot afternoon run that I was headed for, I couldn’t help but to picture my sister’s grave. To wonder, does it have flowers on it too? Or does it sit naked with the grass closing in?
I know her ex-husband is in Europe with his “new” wife, my parents vacationing too. Her kids grown-ish, gone-ish. They might have placed flowers. Our oldest sister might have. Another relative visiting my grandparents’ graves a few paces south of Wendi, out of pity or duty, might have.
But I’m not going to know. I can’t be the one to go check. I know if I go there I will never come back. At least not come back as the 'me' I am now. So the question goes in the pile of things about her I will never know. Like, did she know she was dying? Was she really alone? Did she …
Then I make that same old promise, I will go see her grave in November around the fist snowfall. Make footprints in the snow and leave her a beer.
The promise shelters itself deep within 6-month increments; I will go in _______ time frame, then I will be ready. Ten years plowed away like that, pushing the time further down the road. It’s not a lie if you never believe it.
I ran 6 miles. Saw my Alexis hooping in the park wearing a blue dress that billowed around her creamy skin, bathed in sunlight that lit her long blond hair.
I went home sore and overheated to shower & dress. I never ask to go out. Not to the city, not at night. Honestly, years go by without me wanting. But I had found something small, a free movie screening at the library that I actually wanted to go to.
I arranged dinner and ride for Beach. Checked every to do off the household chore list. Ran 6 miles in 3-year-old running shoes that now make my feet ache so badly at night it wakes me up, dried clothes in a broken dryer that doesn't get hot, baked pumpkin bread in a broken oven that shuts off after 30 minutes, sometimes it turns back on, sometimes it doesn't.
But BC in no hurry casually ran late at work and by the time we entered the doors to the theater, the seats were all taken. We were forced to turn around and leave.
There is silence there where my wanting something for me was. Quiet water. A debris field floating on the soft waves. He might have known how crushed I was but he said nothing. Not even an apology. So I let it quietly drop away down the sidewalk as we walked back to the car and I called to cancel the ride home from Gym for Beach.
It was an accident, he is simply careless when it comes to time. Absentminded and not good at reading people. He didn't realize the significance otherwise, he would have made it a priority like he does for all "his others", his family, his time, His. Yeah, still not a lie if you never believe it in the first place.
When I close my eyes I can see the cemetery, packed with color like a theater filled with sitting smiling people turning slightly in their seats to marvel at their own good planning. Husbands seated beside wives they care for, they think about, they love, they appreciate , & defend.
The gravestones, never ending, their shadows flickering outside the car window.
It reminds me of that hot day in late July, driving home so unsuspecting, so unaware of what was waiting for me at home: the message that my sister was found dead.
The whole scene is really twisted. The people are dead, the flowers dying, not a living soul in sight, and yet the sprinklers ridiculously blazing overhead against the sun. Like the fan crammed in the window of my sister's apartment; epic failures in the realm of resurrection .
If we had any moral sense at all one of us would go rescue all those flowers... but it can't be me, I don't do cemeteries and I don't like to go out at night.