The Descent

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The bright scorching sun blazed off the black shiny surface. I turned my face away

from the glare off the casket. More tears welled up in my eyes and I let them spill out

over my puffy eye lids. They slowly drudged down my mascara stained cheeks and

dampened my dark violet dress. I clenched and unclenched my fist. My tissues were

wet and useless. I could no longer hold them and they drifted to the ground. I watched

numbly as I wondered how many more thousands of tissues I would soak.


The cold, bitter wind nipped at my bare legs creating thousands of goosebumps. I

felt that a blind person could make out a novel on my arms. The chill was the least of

my concerns at the moment. The woman whose hand I was holding, was my primary

focus. Her delicate, fair hand trembled in my strong grip. With empty eyes I gazed at my

recently widowed mother. She was just a shell, void of the shine that lit up her light blue-

green speckled eyes. The windows to her soul had been sealed when my father of

fifty had passed from this world. Slashes of dirt-fragranced air blew my oldest brother’s

tie off his freshly pressed, white, spotless, button-up shirt. He held my father’s old jacket

in the crook of his slackened elbow. I wondered how I was going to inflate my lungs

when the pain was so unbearable, when a loud wailing scream leapt from my second

older brother’s mouth. His face twisted in agony as the realization that he no longer had

an earthly father became concrete in his thoughts of grief. He stumbled toward the

closed ebony casket as it peered over the ten foot wide six feet deep hole. It was to

descend, never to be viewed again. My uncle caught all six foot nine of him as he fell to
the hard, unforgiving, earthy ground. The slick, damp grass made itself known on my

second older brother’s knees. Those stains would never be removed from his clean,

freshly pressed khaki pants. His hands made their way to cover his hopeless

expression. I could not comprehend that scene of pure grief anymore. Gazing

mournfully up at the bright blue sky, I despised it. The clouds should have been blocking

the sun and rain should have been mixing with my free falling tears. A bird flew

overhead and I dared it to sing.

The words May he rest in peace brought me back to my horrific reality. My mother

squeezed my hand with fear of how to pay the bills, hopelessness of living alone the

rest of her life and pity that her three children had just lost their father. I knew as I

studied her expression that she was doing everything that she could to stay strong for

us. I knew that she was strong and I also knew that this was not her time to be strong,

but mine. I slowly slipped my clammy hand out of hers. Panic burst out of every pore on

her body. As I slid my arm around her waist, pulling her in, she released tears of

relief. My oldest brother shuffled behind me, wrapping us both is his large protective

bubble. He leaned down toward my left ear and as his shaky commands floated in my

ear canal, I knew what I had to do. I did not cry to my mother after that moment in time.


We stayed in this position for an eternity and yet just a moment. My uncle picked up

my brothers broken vessel and lead him to our family huddle that would forever be short

one male. My mother grabbed my second older brother’s hand and she drew him in

as a young, hurting child retreating to his mother’s lap.


As kin and friends alike said their pitied farewells, as my mother and two brothers

headed to our car, I stayed behind. Most people do not wish to see their loved ones

shell be lowered into the earth to be covered with hundreds of pounds of dirt. I did.

I sat in the grass watching wordlessly as the burly, gruff, old man lowered my father

away from me. He cautiously watched me from under his blue brimmed baseball cap.

The muscles in his forearm strained as he started the machine. Turning toward my

direction, he questioned me. I reassured him. Explaining that I had not been with my

father before his death, I wished now to say my goodbyes void of prying, pity-filled eyes.

With a simple nod, he removed his cap and backed away from me. I really had nothing

more to say to my earthly father. However, I wanted to memorize this last moment, this

last memory of him. The terrible taste of disbelief, denial, loss of a loved one was thick

on my tongue. I swallowed repeatedly, trying to create saliva to wet my dry throat.

Stroking the dirt filled grass, I closed my eyes imaging it was my father’s thick hair. The

tickle of the firm blades of grass lingered on my wanting fingers as I stood. I carefully

made my way to the casket. Kissing the top, I said my final goodbyes. Just as my father

would descend into the ground, I would make my own descent. God helped me

descend from my father’s resting place that day and everyday of my life.





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