"A Phantom of Delight"

January 21, 2014
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I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t even want this. The day was crisp with blue skies and white clouds, but it was all wrong. I wanted storms. This was the day we were to bury my aunt in the ground and I wanted the sky to cry so much you couldn’t tell the difference between my tears and the rain. The world should’ve mourned her like I did; for I didn’t just lose an aunt that day, we all lost the thread that stitched the family together.

I still remember the poem that was read among the weeping congregation. It described her perfectly. People were lined up in the pews, some clutching each other’s hands, others relying on only themselves for comfort. For just a moment when the line read,

“…Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill;

A perfect woman nobly planned…”
For just a slight second, I was happy, but then the preacher’s words became lost on me. Nothing mattered except that my aunt was gone.

“…A lovely apparition, sent

To be a moment’s ornament…”

My family was gathered close, each trying not to cry, each trying to preserve the memory. Later I’d lie in her room and breathe in the faded White Diamonds perfume that was left on her pillow.

“…Her eyes as stars of Twilight fair;

Like Twilight’s too, her dusky hair…”

Many people spoke warmly about my Aunt Diane; about their childhood together, when they were in girl scouts together, when they became Potato Queens, and how she was faithful to God even in times of struggle. I desperately wanted to be selfish and keep her to myself; no one was allowed to hold her dear, but I couldn’t help but wonder how many lives she’d touched. The thought also crossed my mind that, had I been able to hold myself together, I too might have been able to honor her memory.

“…A being breathing thoughtful breath,

A traveler between life and death…”

When the time came to lower the mahogany casket into the ground, I didn’t want her to go. I wonder if anyone else envisioned themselves running over to rip off the lid, hoping it was just another one of her practical jokes. What I wouldn’t give to see her warm brown eyes and vibrant smile again. The one that could make you beam from the inside out. I wiped my eyes. It was a nice thought for a while, denying death, but then you realize that she’s not coming back. Where she went, I couldn’t follow yet.

“…And now I see with eye serene,

The very pulse of the machine…”

I knew where she was. I knew she wasn’t suffering anymore. Later on I’d be glad that she was meeting her Lord, but right then, I wanted to bask in my sorrow and just mourn.

“Wipe your tears,” whispered my grandma.

“Lord knows she wouldn’t want you crying at her funeral,” Jeena added.

Taking our rubicund roses, we dropped them into the abyss. Twirling faster and faster through the air, mine bounced against the hard surface, leaving the petals to crumple. As did everyone else.

Looking back, I realized I lost more than an aunt. My grandma lost more than a sister. My uncle more than a wife and everyone else more than a friend. We lost a fighter, a jolly spirit, and the family tether. Without her we fell apart. I try to remember a time when she was with us, but the memories are already fading.

“…And yet a spirit still and bright,

With something of an angel light.”

She is now little more than a phantom of delight.

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