The Saturday after I died was beautiful; the weather was something North-Easterners would refer to fondly as “just right.” Not too hot, nor too cold, a slight breeze, and no humidity. The sunshine reflected nicely off the little pond next to my house, making the water shimmer fluidly, as if it were laughing. There was a certain calmness to the air, as if nature were allowing itself a day of leisure, to rest and meander through its own thoughts for awhile.
Inside my house, my mom had positioned herself on a dining room chair, legs crossed tightly in front of her, the fingers of one hand restlessly tapping on the wooden table, while the fingers of her other hand clenched so tightly to the telephone receiver that her knuckles were white. She had been put on hold by the funeral home only three minutes ago, but it had felt to her as if she had been listening to the empty silence on the other end of the line for eternity. Well at least they aren’t playing any of that stupid “on hold” music, I thought to myself as I stared at her.
She was waiting to discuss the details of my funeral. My funeral. I said it again in my head, then one more time after that. My funeral. I had died the night before, but the space between then and the following morning had been pure darkness for me. Maybe that was some sort of transition period as I left my body, I was going through supernatural customs and security check, to get to the other side. Except I wasn’t on the other side. I was here in my dining room, watching my mother try not to scream as she waited to talk to someone about coffin sizes.
That may sound a little silly; it should seem ridiculously obvious that I would affect tons of people with my death. I wasn’t thinking in terms of what was obvious, though. I was thinking in terms of what hurt me the most. And what hurt me the most was being alive.
I never got a chance to see my body after it happened, to see my blue lips and white face. I suppose if I stuck around long enough to attend the funeral, I would get to see myself then. I didn’t know how long I would be sticking around, though. I didn’t know much of anything at all. All I knew was that at this moment, I was able to stand by my dining room table.
I watched my mom slowly hang up the phone, I had missed her entire conversation. She leaned over with a jerking motion and I instinctively stepped forward, thinking she was about to vomit. Instead, she put her head on her knees, wrapped her hands in her hair, and sobbed. She sobbed the way a lioness protects her cubs–with vehemence, with anger, with fear. She sobbed the way a child does when she is ripped from her mother’s arms–frighteningly desperate and shocked to the very core. She shook and cried until no noise was left, just her mouth left wide open, eyes squeezed shut, choking silently on the pain that was being shoved down her throat and into her stomach.
I couldn’t explain, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t move. All I could do was stand there. Stand there and watch, unable to cry, to run to her, to hold her in my arms and lean my head against her shoulder. I couldn’t crawl to her when she fell to her knees from the chair, the immense pressure of sadness acting as a force of gravity. I couldn’t do anything. All I could do was stand there.
That was the last time I saw my mother. I never got to see the beautiful dress she wore to my funeral, I never got to hear her tearful, brave speech she gave at the podium. I was never able to see my funeral at all, or all the countless friends and family members who attended, carrying flowers and telling each other how much they loved me.
She held back tears because she wished I could have been there, the same way she would hold back tears on the day of her wedding, and when she gave birth to her first child. The same way my whole family would hold back tears on every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every birthday. I guess loss wasn’t something that could be buried with the coffin.
I never experienced a roadtrip across the country, or the sights of the grand canyon. I never got to stand on the altar with someone, or hear my child’s first words. I never got to live. I never gave myself the chance. The Saturday after I died was beautiful, though.