You know you’ve been on the job far too long when you start to look like the job. This man looked like a walking corpse, what with his gaunt features and skeletal frame. I was almost afraid to follow him into his office for fear it would be a casket. Oh the irony! Me, afraid of a casket? How odd, considering...
“Date of departure?”
The man’s voice belted out in a baritone nonchalance. Confused by his question, I stared at him wondering if I had a flight this long-lost Addam’s Family member knew about that I didn’t. “Date of departure, ma’am?” he asked again, this time more demanding.
The man seemed disinterested in my possible grief, asking the question as if I were being cross-examined in a legal hearing instead of the daughter of a recently deceased, loving mother I could have been. It must be the job, I reasoned.“Oh!”, my epiphany began. “You mean what day the person died?”
Taking a seat without welcome, I also took in my surroundings: A cherrywood desk with a slightly outdated computer atop it; red and gold embroidered drapery that looked to be in need of a good cleaning; a metal file cabinet with a few minute rusty spots here and there, and ambient lighting like the kind you’d find at a Valentine’s Day dinner with expectations on the spender’s part. It wasn’t so bad after all, I thought. Maybe a little stale with its dusty curtains, but far from morbid.
“I’m sorry, no one has died.”
With head tilted to the side and clearly lost, he asked, “Then what are you here for?“.
He could have just as easily worded that question, “How may I help you?“...Get out of your feelings, Symone, and answer the question.
“I’m here to plan a funeral.”
“Are they sickly?” he asked.
"The Intended Decedent.”
...the “Intended Decedent?”He could have just as easily said...(answer the question, Symone).
“No. The person is not sickly.”
"Power of Attorney, I presume?”
He pooted out his words in a way that made alliteration smell bad— yes, I said smell! Oddly enough, it wasn’t until this moment that I realized the job had taken complete control of him. Not only did he look the part, his breath smelled the part too. I once saw a movie called, Night of the Living Dead, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear… Answer the question, Symone.
“No, sir, I am not the Power of Attorney. I am the, what’d you call it, ‘The Intended Decedent.’”
His eyebrows raised. It was the first glint of hope there was still life in him. It’s Alive! It’s Alive!!!
Envision a blue and white, “Hello, my name is…” sticker where Symone fills the empty space. Symone D. Moore, that’s me. Perhaps, I imagine, it would have been best if the space were left blank. No name to match a person who never was...Yeah, it would be better that way– less work for me.
Statistically, they say we black women don’t kill ourselves. We hurt. We cry. Hell, we might even kill a nigga every now and again— but never ourselves. If there’s a birthright we can claim as our own, black women survive. One thing I learned about statistics, however, is there’s a number for everything but when you do the math, it never adds up.
So I made my decision.
The inevitable task at hand, I considered my options: pills, cutting, “accidentally” forgetting to turn the stove off...I thought of a lot of things, after which I concluded if you want a job done right, you just have to do it, no crack in the door for failure.
I thought of my reason. Then the question became, “Which one?” Sometimes, life lets you know she was never your friend in so many ways. Perhaps, I’ll begin where she was unmasked.