Thursday, April 29, 2010

Missing Alice

On a windy spring day, she drives down a winding road. Dry oak leaves blow in front of the car as if someone forgot to tell the leaves that it was spring, not autumn. She thinks about death during her drive; she kills off not one or two characters in her novel, but a whole slew of them. She's worried that she hasn't written the emotion to carry the deaths. But her lack in narrative emotion, she realizes, comes as a result of strong faith. She knows there's a heaven. When people die, they don't just die. When people die, there's sadness and missing, but not devastation. They don't disappear for good.

When she reaches home, she's met with news of a death. A woman nearly fifty years her senior, a woman she visited regularly. A woman she brought homemade peach jam to, who welcomed the gingerbread boy with blocks, who showed her newspaper clippings. In fact, she visited this woman in the hospital not four days prior. The woman's family was there, all gathered around that day. She had to wear latex gloves during the visit, but as she left, she squeezed the woman's hand--a squeeze as if to say, "I love you, dear one," for she did love the woman. A squeeze as if to say, "I'm sorry you're suffering."

And now she's gone.

And now she misses her.

The woman requested two specific songs to be sung at her funeral, two choral pieces that would be a challenge under the best of circumstances. She tries to learn the songs, though the notes are much too high for comfort. She sings them anyway. She makes a cake for after the funeral, and a pasta salad. But she is still sad.

In the afternoon, she goes out to the woods, urged by the Gingerbread Man. There she finds dozens of jack-in-the-pulpit. Maybe they'll preach to her, tell her that the woman flew through the wind that day, carried along by the oak leaves, flew away to join her husband. She lifts the leaf covering the small Jack. All is well, he says. All is well.

2 comments:

  1. Oh, Ging. I'm sorry. Afterlife or no, it hurts right in the heart, every time you need to let go. Lovely post. (If there's now an excess of peach jam in your life, think of me.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. All one can do is wish for peace - however one finds it.

    ReplyDelete