Take comfort. A saying people like to use when they don’t know what else to say. Oddly enough, it’s spoken when one can neither take nor comfort the person they hoped to console.
The phone rang at 5:16 p.m. that Wednesday. Aunt Beverly answered and I could tell by her expression and the way her hand braced the wall, there was no need for us to visit Daddy in the hospital anymore. Mama was escorted home by Reverend Taylor and the women from the church choir. My baby sister, Joylin, was whisked off to Aunt Beverly and Uncle Ed’s house and given the choice, I hunkered down with Mama.
Then “The Weeping” commenced. Shades were drawn, nothing was touched for days.The house was cold as a tomb even though the warm winds of May were upon us. I kept watch for visitors, met them on the porch, listened to their condolences, collected casseroles and sympathy cards. After three days, the silence inside the house was broken by a call from school. Amidst our Tsunami of sorrow, neither Mama nor I had remembered to call in my “excused” absence.
Soon after, Mama emerged from her room a complete wreck and took the longest and hottest shower ever. Wrapped in a robe and toweled hair, her sunken eyes squared me up as she firmly informed me, “Sallie, this by far, is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. You, my precious girl, are my guiding light. I need you beside me as we put your Daddy in the ground.”
I swallowed hard. The numbed cocoon which had sheltered me from reality, shattered. Burial. No. Dear God, NO!
Air cut off from my throat as I fell to my knees. Mama cradled me and together we formed a weeping mound on the floor and there we stayed until evening came and darkness crept over us. I awoke with my head nestled in her chenille lap as she stroked my hair. Mama wiped away my tears and used her thumb to rub away my sniffles like she did when I was Joylin’s age.
“Baby, nobody knows what you’re going through but you. Don’t try to hide it. You’re too young to hide your pain. You hear me?”
“Mama, I can’t let him go. I keep thinking, he’s just off fishing somewhere. At any minute, he’ll walk through that door.” I took a long deep breath. “I can’t go the cemetery, Mama. I’m not ready to say good-bye. Let me stay here. Please, Mama?”
I watched her face transform from forlorn to forgiveness.
“I’ll rely on God Almighty to give me strength. My heart is broken and I pray pain will fade a little at a time,” her voice faded. “How long until he is just a memory? I can’t say. I only know this, every day I will ache for him to be near me. Happiness will not find me until the angels put me by his side.”
The two of us came to our knees. Mama rose to her bare feet and padded off to the bathroom. As she switched on the bright light, I sheltered my eyes. I crawled into bed and listened as she took one last gasp and choked back a cry. Over the deafening hairdryer, Mama belted out her favorite Johnny Cash and June Carter song, “Far Side Banks of Jordan”.
And as her angelic alto voice filled our small home, “The Weeping” came to an end. Daddy was buried the next day. Life as we knew it had no where to go but onward. He was taken from us and we received no comfort.
Rebecca Williams Spindler is a born-to-be writer. She was thrilled to receive her first Brother Typewriter at the ripe old age of nine. Although she fancies Carrie Bradshaw as her alter-ego, in reality, she’s much more of a Charlotte York. She’s written a heart-warming and hilarious three book Young Adult series with her teenage daughter, Madelyn. The third book was honored with the 2013 Tofte/Wright Children’s Literature Award.
Rebecca’s a Writing Instructor for the University of Wisconsin – Madison Continuing Education Department and is a frequent and passionate speaker on writing. Aside from novel writing, Rebecca has published short stories and written a vast collection of screenplays. She’s been the Vice President of Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum since 2010. She looks forward to her award-winning short screenplay, “Wrong Number Right Day”, film debut in 2016 from Project Famous Films. Her ramblings and journeys of authorhood can be followed on www.facebook.com/fansofspindlerwriting and her website: www.spindlerwriting.com.