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Your Funeral This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     Hard to believe, but true.

God has only left the memories to hold onto.

The pictures, they are priceless.

The memories, they are forever.

The fact of never being able to see your face and feel your warm presence hits me hard, hard enough that my heart skips a beat and my lungs become dreadfully heavy.

The mournful pain feels like a thousand black bricks stacked and cemented on top of my chest - I can’t breathe for a moment, as my chest struggles to rise, only sinking deeper and deeper beneath the weighted pile of hell. With each exhalation, I feel the flow of tears that start at the corner of my eyes and eventually fill my reservoir. My body works like a dead pump. With each muttering breath, water pours from me in a slow, delayed flow, then more and more streams down my face.

From a short distance, I see your profile sticking up from the rim of your eternal bed. I subconsciously hold my breath and timidly put one foot in front of the other as I move toward you. For the first time in my life, I don’t want to see you. No, not like this. Not now.

But, I know this is my last chance.

My forehead creases in shock. Oh, your face is fake. What have they done to you? Eyes glued shut. The thin black line of glue fills the inside corner of your eyes. It almost looks like they used eyelash glue. I can still see the faint purple scab on the left side of your forehead, right beside the temple. Don’t worry, it is not too big or deep; the make-up covers it well. Your bottom jaw wants to drop, but can’t because they glued your mouth shut. I can see how your smooth but cold, hard lips stick together still flush with color, but covered with neutral lip stick. Don’t worry about your hair. It is perfect, no one will try to mess it up. Not like how I used to. Your short hair is gelled and combed straight forward, just the way you like it. Nice. It shines next to the tall candles that surround your body. The suit looks good, showing off your broad shoulders and proud chest. The navy blue matches the casket that cradles your infinite sleep. Your arms rest by your side, and your hands - right over left - hold a white beaded rosary.

You seem restless, yet uncomfortable and as stiff as a board. I take the prayer position, my knees cracking as I lower myself to the kneeling pad. I watch over you like a mother singing her baby to sleep. Careful not to drip on you as my head hangs over your shoulder, I wipe my face. The reek of the formalin inside your veins seeps through your skin as if it were a screen. The smell reminds me of the dead frogs we dissected freshman year in biology, but since this is my last chance to be by your side, it does not phase me.

Nothing matters but you.

I wedge a sealed envelope between your right arm and the white silk-padded casket wall. I wrote you a letter last night because it was my only chance to keep our most cherished memories safe. I wanted you to have them by your side forever.

As I study your face, your chest and your hands, I expect you to move. Even though I know you cannot, I imagine your chest beginning to rise and fall with mine. Slow, deep breaths struggling to control my emotions and pouring tears overcome me. My eyes close for seconds, then open, hoping to see you breathing again. You are not.

My emotions and thoughts play monkey in the middle with my head. The reality is right in front of me. You are a foot from my face, but I cannot accept it. I do not believe what I see. It is not true. What happened was not real. You are okay, you are okay, you are okay.

I am not okay. I cannot hold back the pain in my heart, in my soul. A thousand daggers jab, stick and twist through my heart all at the same time. My heart bleeds with tears. I am overwhelmed. My teeth bite my lower lip as my hands clench the edge of your casket so hard that my knuckles turn white and the blue-green twisting veins surface. My forehead wrinkles and the crease between my eyebrows folds as I close my overflowing eyes tightly.

The crying voice inside me is kicking, screaming, fighting to get out like a raging bull. My breathing pattern starts to change as the crying force inside takes over. With each exhale, it sounds like a soft chuckle coming through my nose trying hard to be kept in. Instead of a chuckle, it is the beginning of a breakdown. My shoulders bounce up and down to accommodate my exhalations.

The tears are unstoppable now. I cry so hard that I cannot breathe anymore. I am drowning in my tears. I feel as if I am underwater for an entire minute desperately needing air. I swim to the surface, almost blacking out and gasp! Sweet oxygen finally fills my lungs and flows through my body. I feel as if I go through that cycle continuously.

Being by your side and not being able to come in contact with you kills me even more. More than the thousand daggers that stab me, if that is possible. My hand hesitates. I am afraid that this reality will seem even more real, but I cannot help it. My hand slides over yours. Your skin holds no elasticity, not even enough to pinch. The muscles and tendons between the webbing of your thumb and index finger feel like a hard-padded mat covered with leather. The moisture in your skin is gone. The tiny scratches on your knuckles show through the make-up. From far away nobody would have been able to tell that you got them from the gravel when the car threw you out the window.

I try to imagine that your hand will move to hold mine. I know it is only my imagination, but in this moment, fantasy and reality dress like identical twins that I cannot tell apart. It is too hard. Too impossible. My head throbs.

I am sorry your body is this way. Completely lifeless, completely still. Dead brain, no functioning organs, but you still have a heart. A heart just as alive as your playful soul.

Oh, how I miss you.

No one will ever hear how much I pray. No one but you. Because I know, I just know you can hear me.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the October 2005 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.






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Willow This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 14, 2009 at 10:39 pm
Wow. That's all I can say. That was incredible.
 
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