Months To Years Winter 2019 Months To Years Winter 2019 - Page 56

to leave. I took one last look at the casket, and creaking with the blowing of the wind, I couldn’t returned to the car. We weren’t permitted to sleep—but even worse, I didn’t want to sleep. I watch as the casket was lowered into the ground didn’t want to be swept away in the middle of the and covered. I wondered why. Perhaps the messy night, like my mother, even if it was to heaven. emotions of the thud from clumps of dirt. So, I became a nocturnal creature, like an owl, guarded, staying awake in the night, for weeks if I looked at my grandmother as we headed home. not months, sleeping fitful sleeps after school, in Time, and loss, had cut lines in her face. Her the lighted comfort of day. eyes, red from crying, reflected the loss of my mother. She was widowed, and now, her only child Now, in the latter years of my life, I think of my was dead. She was alone, and burdened with mother’s death, and wonder what her grave looks raising two young boys: me, and my two-year-old like, and wonder why I wonder, for a grave is stepbrother. nothing more than the landscape of a life once lived. I also wonder what’s left in the measured When we arrived home, the house was silent, as confines six feet under, an admittedly dark, yet the last hint of a September sun slipped below innocent thought. Perhaps there’s the metal shell the horizon. My grandmother retired to bed, of the casket, or a few shards of her dress, or the weakened from the day’s events. I sat there, tattered lining of the casket, or the splintered thinking, not sure what to do. It was like I was remnants of her bones, or the worms and grubs in a land of hiatus, not moving forward and not that cleanse the earth and return things to a moving backwards, stuck like a candy bar jammed homeostatic rightness. Or perhaps a little of all. in a vending machine. But what I wonder most is tethered to the final Then, as dusk turned to darkness, and with my moments before her casket was closed: is the grandmother resting in bed, I became anxious and glass-encased rose still there—the rose that afraid. In a house absent my mother’s presence touched my hand and laid on her chest—for it was and rich in the sound of the aged timbers the last, and only gift I ever gave to my mother. Paul Rousseau is a semi-retired hospice/palliative medicine physician. His work has been published in Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Blood and Thunder, and The Healing Muse, just to mention a few. He lives in Charleston, S.C. with his three dogs, but longs to return home to Arizona, a place he left after the death of his wife. 56