A White Box

April 17, 2018

“Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist.”

~ Guy de Maupassant

I have a picture of you from 1971.

You are dressed in a white sleeveless top and matching white stockings kneeling next to a tree. Nestled in your arms is a small, white bundle with a tuft of dark hair. Your face is turned down, but not so much that your proud, slight smile is hidden.

That bundle was me. Just shy of 46 years later, my siblings and I held your hands as you sang your last note.

So many things happened in the space between that first picture and this final goodbye, too many to list, but I will carry them with me. You gave the world so much in spite of seemingly being always at war with it.

We buried you today. Two of my siblings were there. The third was not, and that’s okay. She has her reasons. I love her still, as I’m sure you do.

Your ashes were sealed in a white box roughly the size of the bundle you held back in 1971. We spoke with the caretaker briefly, you sitting quietly on the conference table between us, then gathered ourselves to head up the hill.

I took you in my arms one last time, a small white bundle, hard and cold, but still it was you. I held you in my lap as we drove to the site, memories of you playing out across the surface of the sarcophagus, some good, some not so good.

I placed you on the table under the tent. The three of us chatted for a bit, shared our hearts, laughter and tears.

So many painful images between that picture and the now, among them my earliest of memories, but today I held you as you held me back then, and these are the reflections I choose to hold above all the others:

A mother holding her son.

A son holding his mother.

For Mom: June 6, 1932 - July 14, 2017

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