They buried him under a blazing midday sun.
Earlier that morning, with birds twittering and summer breezes blowing, it was downright mean to be made to enter the dimly lit funeral parlor, with its slight chill and nauseating blend of flowers and disinfectant.
In fact, the contrast was so extreme so as to produce anxiousness and fear in my young mind. But, I had no choice. And so, sandwiched between my parents and little brother Ronnie, I dutifully followed my mother’s back, in the long lineup, towards the casket.
Upon arrival, what I saw was an unbelievably small wrinkled old man being swallowed by the satiny folds within. It brought to mind my brother’s jack in the box and I started sweating at the thought of this grey almost skeletal figure suddenly popping upright.
For once, I envied my little brother, who from his two foot height perspective of the world, was spared from having to see the cadaver. My mom was murmuring something and then thankfully dragged me away with her.
Driving from the funeral parlor to the cemetery took another forty five minutes and by this time I was getting sticky in my dress clothes as the sun climbed higher in the sky and temperatures rose. I wanted to be in the park with my friends. Ronnie was sucking at his thumb in the back seat oblivious to our location and destination.
When we arrived at the cemetery, there was another half an hour wait crushed within the sobbing whispering crowd.
During the ceremony, as the coffin was being lowered into the ground an inhuman wailing sound arose from the front of the crowd. My mom took my hand and squeezed it, giving me her most reassuring look. Ronnie started crying so that my dad had to take him back to the car. I wanted to cry too if it meant getting me out of there, but I was so paralyzed by fear and an uncomfortable queasiness inside me that wouldn’t allow for any movement or sound.
Even now, as an adult who has had ample exposure to the cycle of life at its most miraculously joyful and at its ghastliest, I find myself moved by the juxtaposition of a brazenly splendid weather day so unabashedly beautiful in contrast to the surrounding death and destruction, doom and gloom.