My mom walked out of the bathroom. Her eyes were thick with red swells and purple puffs that aged her at least ten years. She always worried about her looks, and so I fathomed how deep her distress must be. Today it didn’t seem to matter. She went in to my sister’s room to wake her up.
“Grayson…Grayson, time to get up. You need to get ready honey.” My sister opened her eyes, squinting between the crusts that had formed around her lashes from crying all night.
“I don’t want to go mommy, I just want LouLou to come home.”
“I know dear, but she is not coming home. Its hard baby girl, but everything is going to be okay, you’ll see.”
“How?” She asked plain and simple. My mother grew weary of having the answers.
“C’mon, just get up, I’ll help you get ready.” Grayson cried and fell into my mom’s arms sobbing,
“But LouLou always helps me!” My mom just held Grayson, holding her tender, allowing her to empty the barrels of her heart. My heart shattered into pieces.
My dad yelled from the bottom of stairs.
“Are you guys ready, we’ll be late!”
He looked handsome in his suit. He always did on Sundays for church, but today was Saturday. I sensed his anxiety, it lined his face like a weathered map and I wanted to run to him and ask for his forgiveness. I wanted to know what he was thinking. Was he angry with me… was he sad? It was hard to tell with him, he was the master of illusion when it came to emotions. blowing off the most horrendous of circumstances, this being one. He glanced at his watch and tapped his foot impatiently as my mom and Grayson came running down the stairs. My parents gaze averted one another as my mom moved past him and out to the car, tugging an unwilling Grayson along behind her.
The drive to my funeral compared to that of meeting your Gynecologist for the first time…awkward silence. Grayson who normally had her face stuck to an electronic screen of some kind, stared emptily out the window.
My mother pulled the visor down and applied her makeup, frazzled by her own vacuous reflection staring back. My dad turned on the radio and a song played out. “Hey that’s LouLou’s favorite song!" Grayson shouted. My dad shut off the radio. Damn. Grayson frowned and dropped her eyes to the floor.
My mom groaned, “Dan…” He just kept his eyes on the road.
We pulled into the parking lot of the community recreation center. Why were we here? Why weren’t we at church?
The scene was an endless colorless rainbow of grey and black. The skies clear enough for me to see the entire service. Who were all these people? I recognized some of them as classmates, whom I thought never even knew I existed. They gathered hand in hand, hugging one another, grieving over me.
My best friend Junie walked over to greet my parents. Her shoulders were drawn down and she looked as if she had misplaced something important. She always fretted over simple tedious tasks, like organizing came fourth nature. Her brown eyes and her unwashed brown locks sat limp on her shoulders, and she looked as though she had not slept. “Hello Mrs. Becket.”
“Hello Junie dear, how are you love?”
“To be perfectly honest, I don’t know yet.”
“Of course, that’s understandable dear. It will get better.”
“Will it?” My mom’s lips pursed together, her next words stuck between the gummy film on her lips. She always tried to sprinkle glitter on everything, I think that’s called denial. My dad only nodded his head toward Junie. She lowered her eyes and went back over to her parents, who looked past mine with a vacant snub.
The lights dimmed as a projector turned on displaying a frippery of baby pictures and school photos. The fact that I had only lived 15 years left the content of the proceedings a little empty. But there I was in bold big colors, my mom holding me, my dad throwing me up in the air, me holding Grayson when she was born. It looked like a beautiful life, so what happened?
Something became poignant of each family member as each photo was flipped through like a viewfinder stuck on autoplay, over and over — their eyes—so full of life, the sparkle, like gems…those wells were empty—gone—dried up. The life had simply disappeared from them. I could not remember the last time that glint shined.
The room shuffled and breathed its own rhythm. The scuffling of shoes and sniffles, and gossip lined the walls with a suffocating reality filled with lies and truths.
My mother set Grayson on my dad’s lap and then walked to the front of the room. A hush fell over the room in such a way, as if mother nature had silenced everyone with her presence. A flush spread across my mothers face as if she suffered from a bad cold, not a deceased child. She grabbed the microphone at the podium.
“Hel-hello everyone.” She struggled to find her words. “Uh, I want to thank you for coming to cele-celebrate, uh, Luella’s life.” It was impossible to hold. I witnessed it rise and rise inside her, and there was nothing left for it to do but come out. She choked her tears back, swallowing deeply to push them down, lifting her tongue between the crease in her upper lip, the knot twisting as she pushed the words out. “Luella, would be amazed to see all of your faces today. I think she felt invisible at times, relying on Junie,” she pointed to Junie, “and the grace of God to keep her out in the world. She was a sensitive, thoughtful human being, and my hope is that you will leave today knowing her a little bit better.” She paused to absorb the look on the faces of those in front of her. A mix of sympathetic, pitiful, and judgmental stares rattled her bones with angst. “She…never understood her value, I think. I wish she had—I hope all of you understand your own.” Her hands began to shake and she dropped the microphone. An uncontrollable feast of emotion harnessed the last bit of strength she had.
My dad jumped up, passing Grayson to Uncle Micky and approaching the podium to break her fall. He took the microphone.“Thank you everyone, we have a special musical performance by her music teacher, Mrs. Phelps.
Mrs. Phelps cued the lights to dim and my pictures resumed their carousel dance across the screen behind her. She sat down at her piano and began to play Halo by Beyonce while Jenny Clark played the cello. It was beautiful. I had practiced that song until my finger tips bled; my Uncle Micky had taught me to play bass and I never imagined that this is where I’d hear it performed. He stood there taking my place with the bass guitar he had given me. A picture flashed on the screen of me holding it like it was my best friend. Suddenly I ached for my life.
I turned to meet the gaze of those green eyes that brimmed with empathy. Such a conundrum faced me, like an ugly clown in an Armani suit, I began to see the beauty in what I had lost. At this young age I was certain of three things. One, I missed my bass, two, I missed my friends and family, and three, my life was over.
The music ended and one by one an un-choreographed line of people came up to the podium to say something. My death had left its sting on so many.
My father, Uncle Micky, and some of my fathers friends walked up to my casket, which I completely lost sight of. I lay in there—not breathing—not moving—not living! A tingling sensation buzzed through my ears as I imagined the claustrophobic nature of my eternal nap and the 6 feet of dirt that I’d be wrapped in.
I started to hyperventilate and the woman came to hold me with the iridescent glow of her warmth. I could see the detriment in my fathers eyes, the heart break my Uncle Micky felt as the cold handles of the casket were locked between their grip.
“Stop Luella, be strong. The burdens of the flesh do not exist here so take hold of what still belongs to you—your soul!” the woman said.
I collected myself understanding what she meant and feeling the strength of it. She was right. I felt so free here, clear minded and powerful. I suddenly became angry. “Why could I not feel like this when I was alive? Why?” I fell down on my hands and knees and sobbed, feeling tormented by the experience that had just begun. Justine did not comfort me and allowed me to cry it out, and after a few moments I stopped and stood. She met my gaze with earnestness.
“What’s next?” I asked.
She drew in her breath, the translucence of her chest heaving up and then down. “There is more to watch. Who would you like to start with?”
I looked at her confused. “I don’t understand.”
Part of understanding why you left your life, and part of realizing the importance of why you were given life in the first place resides in the constructs of your relationships. I mean everything plays a part—everything, from the woman with the crying baby who you gave your seat up for on the bus, to your parents relationship, to your sister—it all matters.”
“Well since you know so much about everything, why don’t you choose!” I screamed.
She took another deep breath, this time she gave off a pinkish hue. “Luella, there have been others before you, you are not the first. I too have been in your position, so yeah, I do know. You are loved on this spiritual plane. You’ve been given another chance—"
“Chance to do what?” This time I began to glow pink. “My life is over!”
“You’ll see. It would not be wise to simply hit the reset button and send you back, now would it? You have to learn what went wrong... to take that with you the next time.”
“The next time?” I was more confused then ever.
“We are getting ahead of ourselves. Lets start with something simple, shall we?”
The mist dispersed and my school’s drama center came into view. What did my school have to do with it? Then I saw him. Ronald Reilly.
Did you enjoy my ongoing story so far? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, withoutwings2017Write a Review