I can’t remember much about her anymore.
I remember the moment when there were wisps of her life still clinging to the things she left behind. I remember sorting through her personal items after the funeral. Her toothbrush. It still smelled like toothpaste. Two weeks later I got it out again to look at it. I brought it to my nose. It no longer had the smell of toothpaste on it and like the fading memories, I struggled to remember, but I couldn’t. She wasn’t there to remind me of who she was.
I used to crash funerals for a while, after she died. I would look through the obituaries for the youngest person they had listed. One time there was a young man who had died because a police car had lost control at an intersection and run into him and his friend, while they had been driving home late one night. The movies taught me what to wear. I bought a black skirt a black hat and black sunglasses...black stockings and black shoes. I went to the cemetery and stood there among the mourners. The couple behind me dressed to the T in black, dark shades covering their eyes. They talked under their breath about the deceased’s sibling, when he burst into sobbing, as each family member left a rose on the casket. They clutched at each other. I hung onto every juicy detail.
I had to be sad. I needed to cry some more. I wished to be an ancient Hebrew mourner, where the rich would hire mourners to attend funerals of their beloved, following the procession weeping and wailing. I would have been the loudest of them all. I would have meant every bit of it.
The day we buried her, we all stood at the graveside, while the men in their Sunday straight coats and shoes shoveled dirt onto the lowered casket. There were no dark glasses to hide the tears in our eyes that day. There seemed not to be enough tears to cry the loss, so the God sent the elements to help us. First it snowed fluffy white flakes, then it rained and didn’t let up for a week. As for me, I didn’t see blue sky till late the following spring. After the mourners left, the following day, I returned to lay a solitary flower on the bare mound of brown clay carved into the green grass not yet deadened by the sleet and snow coming down. We don’t lay flowers on our graves. I came to lay mine in secret.
Last week I discovered my roommate at home on a work day. She is Jewish by heritage and Messianic by decision. It was Tish B’Av, a day designated by the Jews for mourning and fasting. The occasion, the destruction of the temple. I think I would enter full-heartedly into the mourning of the temple. We mourn the destruction of our individual earthly temples. Who mourns the disrepair of our spiritual houses of worship? Who mourns our broken families? Who mourns our society and our shattered world? No amount of mourning and wailing is enough to express the anguish we the created inflict upon God the creator. Mourn and wail when you can. And then mourn and wail some more wherever you wander on your sleepless nights. It is good to remember that we are all-together broken. And it is good to remember who can repair us.
Yes, I have trouble remembering the way things were and who she used to be.