by Lynn Nichole
A sample piece to a larger story of mine
I was calm that day, eerily calm. It was as though the turmoil of the last six months had reached a silent peak, filling me so completely that it blocked out everything else. I couldn’t hear; not the driver, not the ushers, not the pastor.
They carried the casket on ahead of us, up the path toward the gravesite. The flowers in my hands didn’t tremble; the lace on my dress didn’t crumple; the veil over my eyes remained stable. My heart beat a wooden tempo as I walked with measured steps, singing a swan’s funeral song. As we passed each row of chairs, the people in them rose solemnly to stand.
The ebony uttered a hollow knock as it was lifted respectfully onto its stand. Our father stood in the back beside our mother, who sat folded in her chair, unable to bear the weight of your passing. The minister’s wife sat beside her, white sleeves draped around her shoulders like angels’ wings. I both longed for and resented the lack of wings present to comfort me.
The final notes to your favorite song faded away into your favorite gray clouds. A few words were spoken, a few memories were shared, and a prayer was offered. Your face was clean and gentle when I leaned in to place around your neck the necklace I made for you, the wing charm laying protectively over your collarbone as I watched over you. Then you were laid to rest, buried gently beneath my feet, with a stone bearing your name marking the place where I last saw you.
Gazing between the aisles of chairs, it was then that I noticed the crow sitting on the ground at the entryway. It stared, feathers buffed in the late summer air. I heard the frantic flapping of wings just before I watched a blackbird fly over my head and up toward the clouds, the blue sheen of its head just visible in the mute afternoon light. As it passed, the crow took flight and pursued.
I stayed by your side until the people had gone, until Liam’s family had said goodbye, until Drew draped a scarf around my shoulders and gently guided me out of the cold. I walked numbly under his arm, thinking strangely of the blackbird. I gazed back at the flowers which embossed your grave, resigned and reluctant to be guided forward into a world I no longer knew, away from you.