WEDNESDAY NIGHT MEETING

OVERTURE

 

    It’s noon in early April and the weather is perfect. The funeral home is pure white. Looking up to the bluest sky she’s seen in her twenty-four years, Ms. Lovinglace feels the radiance of our closest star in a way that causes her to feel insignificant. She senses the twinkling spectra of light landing on her skin, even on the folds of her ears. As she closes her peridot eyes, the muted outline of the sun blazes to form an instant memory in the darkness of a long blink. The arrhythmic chimes of warmth caress the tip of her nose, the flickering sparkles disperse over her forehead, and an invisible rainbow leaves a beauty mark above her lips. In a moment of nonchalant concentration, she’s become a sole flower at the mercy of Nature.

    As she lowers her chin from 41° to the horizon, her blurred vision fights through the sun’s static, and the white eaves of the funeral home come into focus. The doors open to the halls of final goodbyes. She feels hands from both sides carefully grasp hers. They walk along the ocean blue carpeting, heel to toe, then stop together. There are distorted voices, forced smiles, and head nods. Then a few more steps, another pause, and forward again. The shadow from the entrance eclipses the sun rays and her sight adjusts to the dim chandeliers and sheet-rocked walls. The opacity is chilling and true.

    Ms. Lovinglace skips forward in time and finds herself again gazing toward the once blue sky. Although this time she’s kneeling, and the only things illuminated are the frozen drips of eggshell paint that had dried before gravity could take over. She wonders if the stalagmite ceiling feels smooth or rough. Her gaze returns to a new horizon, where she finds the scape of a maroon two-piece suit filled out by a body, not a man. Not her father, she thinks. She doesn’t want to see the painted and positioned lips, sewn eyelids, or posthumously groomed beard and combed hair. She knows what’s there, but keeps it on the periphery. Instead her focus darts forward to the Patriarchal cross pinned to the white cushion on the inside lining of the coffin. It will soon be closed to rest against his room-temperature chest, which she imagines as a glacial cavity.

    She thinks of the wonderfulness of the sun outside, the warmth that is found in life, in laughter, in memories, in the heat of arguments, in the passion of relationships, and in the stories that we tell for as long as we can—until the next generation blooms under this same praiseworthy star and reaffirms the summation of our moments heretofore. She touches the crucifix on her necklace with her index and middle fingers, and passes over the body of Christ lightly, as though reading braille. Her lips quiver to the cadence of the Lord’s Prayer. She closes her eyes and presses out a single salty tear, which zigs and zags through a maze of newborn freckles.

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