goodbye (doubt anyone will read this long post but here goes)
June 12 2006
I sat in my motherâ€™s car with my eyes watching my hands. I closed them for a moment and tried to take in as much air as my body could allow in one breath. No matter how hard I tried I couldnâ€™t seem to get enough. As I sat there, I began to collect as much courage and composer as I could muster. I heard my motherâ€™s voice beside me, â€œAre you ready?â€ Was I ready? HA! Would I ever be ready? â€œYes,â€ I vaguely remember answering her. As we got out of the car, I could feel the breath quickly escaping me again. My legs buckled under me and went numb. I looked at the ground and listened to the sound of my heels as we approached the ugly green steps of a house. I briefly glanced up and saw two men sitting on rocking chairs on the front porch. They were unfamiliar to me. They caught my gaze and I quickly looked back down at my feet again. I slowly walked up the steps and walked through a clear glass door. I man welcomed me, but I paid no attention to him. I walked into the main room and heard my motherâ€™s voice again. â€œArenâ€™t you going to sign the guest book?â€ I didnâ€™t think of myself as a guest. It was my family. I was apart of it. Why did I have to sign a guest book when I clearly wasnâ€™t a guest? â€œSure,â€ I replied as I foggily scribbled my name in the book. As I turned around, I was greeted by two of my cousins. You could easily tell by glancing at them that they were tired and had been crying. The bags under their eyes were swollen, and their speech was course. I donâ€™t even remember what I said to them. I was more interested in finding my father. I turned around and saw him talking with a strange woman. I heard him say my name and introduce me to her, but I neither remember her name nor really care. I went up to him and squeezed him as tight as I could. A tear escaped from my eye before I had the opportunity to wipe it away. He spoke to me, â€œI was getting worried about you. What time did you leave?â€ I remember saying something to the effect of, â€œWe left about one. I had school. We had to eat. We came straight here.â€ He went on to say that since that was the case we made good time. He thanked my mother for bringing me. He proceeded to tell me that my grandmother was worried about me and that I should show her that I was here safely. He pointed to the front of the room. I didnâ€™t want to look at the front of the room. I knew what my eyes would find there, but I did as my father instructed me to. I looked and found a group of people standing in a line. As I followed the line to its beginning, I saw my grandmother and my two aunts hugging and speaking with several people whom I didnâ€™t know. I was told to skip the line and go straight to her. I wanted to stand in that line. I wanted time to stand still, to keep myself from the pain. I wanted with all the soul to run from that house with my face buried in my hands. Somehow, mechanically, I walked to the head of the line. My grandmotherâ€™s back was to me, but I touched her shoulder. She turned around in surprise. As soon as she recognized me, she embraced me with the warmest embrace I have ever experienced. â€œASHLEY! I was beginning to get worried about you!â€ As soon as those words exited her mouth, she began to cry. When I felt her body shudder with the sobs, I lost myself completely. My composure and courage melted away as if it had never existed. â€œNo, no Ashley. Donâ€™t cry. Just look at him. He looks as if he was sitting at the kitchen table.â€ How could she say this to me? He would never sit at that table again. He would never do another crossword puzzle. He would never say â€˜hey there buddy!â€™ to me ever again. I began to reminisce about all the times we had together. My brain suddenly snapped back to where I was again. I didnâ€™t want to look at him that way. I wanted always to have those memories. The ones where he moved and made jokes. Not this memory. No matter how hard I closed my eyes, I couldnâ€™t make the scene in front of me go away. I couldnâ€™t block out the sounds of the sniffling and the crying in the background. I took a staggered breath and looked upon him. She was right! I didnâ€™t want to accept it, but she was absolutely correct in her accusation. He looked as I remembered him to look. He had on his Notre Dame base ball hat, his glasses, his favorite flannel shirt, and good pair of blue jeans. It was just how he would have wanted to look. I couldnâ€™t help but smile through my tear stained face. The rest of the night was a blur. I had arrived only for the last hour and a half of visitation. I talked with family, recalling none of their names of course. Then, the extended family slowly began leaving until only my aunts, uncles, and cousins were left. The director was telling us how the next day was to proceed. He talked slowly so we could understand what he was telling us. After we decided that my grandmother was to ride with my father in the procession along with me, we all decided to leave and try to get some rest. They had been standing for the last five hours greeting all the family and friends. We walked outside and my mother and father decided to eat somewhere. We ended up at Burger King. They told stories involving my papaw, and they distracted me. After we had finished, my mom and I went back to our hotel, and I tried the hardest I had ever had to get some sleep. The next day would be toughest day I had ever had to face.
to be continued at a later date...