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Chapter 13: chapter twelve: forever my father
"And I just needed you to pick me up, Like you did when we were younger. When the lightning and the thunder, Had me clinging to your heart, For someone To lift me up"
Forever My Father - Go Radio
Everything about today seemed to shed a tear. The rain splattered against the windows; raindrops making patterns and evolving on their downward spiral. The inevitability of gravity and the raindrops downward spiral was strangely comforting. It reminded me that not everything had changed.
One foot after the other, I managed to get myself into a car. Time seemed to drip by; even the traffic moved slowly and mournfully.
I walked, step by step down the small path that led to mum’s future resting place. The trees swirled in the wind; the grass moist beneath my black shoes. The sky above me was a dark grey colour; the storm clouds loomed over me threateningly. Face downcast, arms wrapped around myself I knew without a doubt that I’d never forget this day.
I wouldn’t forget the way the way the weeping willows seemed to offer condolences and express grief in the faint wind. I wouldn’t forget the way tears trickled down my face slowly- the rain matching their pace. I wouldn’t forget the way mum’s black dress fit me. I wouldn’t forget the way I fidgeted with her pearls hanging around my neck.
Reaching the grave, I nodded towards the priest before staring numbly at mum’s coffin. She was in there. Alone. It was like I had tunnel vision, and all I could see was the dark brown wooden box holding the one person who knew me and loved me anyways.
“We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Grace Andrews,” the priest said in an overdone grieving voice. He never knew my mother. How could he?
“Lexie Andrews, Grace’s daughter will share a few words now,” the priest said again. I looked up to see him beckoning me towards him. I walked numbly, aware of my wet face. Reaching the makeshift podium, I wiped away a few tears. My hands quivered as I clenched the top of the podium.
For the first time I let my eyes wander away from the coffin and scan the people shrouded in black. All were faceless; just bodies dressed properly in black. Upon closer inspection, I saw several of mum’s nurses and a few of her doctors. Messy dark brown hair caught my attention; the entire Potter family had come. I bit my lip, my stomach sinking with guilt.
I had promised James that I’d owl him with the funeral arrangement date. I never did, yet he managed to find out anyways.
“My mum is the best thing that has ever happened to me. She brought me into this world. She gave up her entire world to make room for mine,” I said huskily. I cleared my throat before continuing, “everything I am today is because of her. She loved unconditionally without fault. As I stand here today, I am reminded how one person can change the course of another’s lifetime,” I stopped, closing my eyes relishing the feeling of tears pouring down my cheeks.
“I’d like to share a poem that, that I wrote for mum before she died. It’s called Meeting Place.
‘The old scuffed porch strains underfoot,
Aged wicker chairs face each other
Condensation from our glasses drip on the worn table.
Each knot of wood, dent and water stain tells a story
Of late night talks and heated arguments.
Around us fields of tall grass-
become golden waves tossed by the wind
while bees buzz and crickets chirp.
Summer breeze brings the scent of warm honey,
swirling around our meeting place.
Our hands join without thought, warm and familiar.
Your laugh echoes in my ears
I close my eyes as your voice encircles me
Commit the moment to memory.
A frown grows as the distant end erupts with blinding colours.
The sky sizzles in a kaleidoscope of reds, pinks and purples
Your dark silhouette shatters the image like broken glass.
Now an inkling of what you once were
Yet your eyes still shine,
Telling me everything I’ll ever need to know.
Sun fades away into to the stars.
Your laughter becomes empty and distant,
Lingering warmth turns to chill
Glossy eyes meet mine
I know this moment will be our last
Memorize our joined hands,
I’ll clasp tight and never let go,
But I feel your grip slackening to nothing.
Reassuring eyes pierce through me
Slowly away from me you slide
Like a tide receding with a final breathe.
My fairytale gone, cold and damp,
Instead of tall grass, ravines and rugged paths lay before me
Canyons and battle fields challenge me
Raging a fire of fear, I am alone for the first time
Because you are there, and I here.
I see it; ghost of your memory, our memories.
Faint scent of warm honey and sunlight,
The feeling of clasped hands and the familiar warmth,
My eyes close against the turbulent waves,
Troubles washed away with the mere thought of you.
I bring myself back to our meeting place
There, love is never too far,
Impossible to stray.
Closed eyes, sunlight on my face
I see it; the old rickety chairs,
Golden ocean grass flowing in the breeze.
I open my eyes to here and now,
Cedar box of everything, a dusting of white lilies,
A heavy mourning rain and whispering willows
Everything is black.
While I hear the last goodbyes and memories of you,
I think of the old wood porch,
While wood meets earth.
Eyes lift skywards- rain cleansing the tears away.
We’ve parted now, you in your place and I in mine
Yet every now and then I am taken to a place,
Of swaying fields of grass,
The warm breeze decorated with honeysuckle.
Wicker chairs lay waiting atop the aged porch,
Two tall glasses of lemonade prepared.,’” I took a deep breath and looked up from the piece of paper I had been reading from.
“I know that mum is in a better place now. Someone wise once told me that life’s too hard for there not to be a resting place of peace afterwards. Those we love the most never leave us. They shape us and make us who we are. A part of them lives on in us.”
I looked down again at the crumpled sheet of paper and at the coffin. Cautiously, I stepped away from the podium and returned to my previous spot. The priest said a few more words- I couldn’t listen anymore. Then, slowly, one by one people began to leave roses on top of the coffin. They didn’t linger or watch as the coffin was slowly lowered into the freshly dug grave. My feet were rooted to the spot- I couldn’t move. It hit me like a tidal wave.
It was my mum. She was in there. A sob broke through my composure, and I sunk unsteadily to my knees and watched with horror.
Warm arms wrapped themselves around me and I leaned into them.
“It’s okay Lexie,” James whispered. I shook my head, wrapping my arms around his neck.
“It’s okay,” he whispered again.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it would never be okay again. Not for me.