Numbness, wandering like those in the day of the living dead,
entered the most feared, desolate, uninviting, forbidding, sickly-
faux serene place on the face of the earth, the funeral parlor.
None of these young people ever would have chosen in a
million years to be where they were at that moment in time
in the August of their lives just before going back to school.
In the place of the family viewing, the room reserved for the
uber-numb, the young, dead woman’s twenty-five year old
son approached the open casket to view the woman
he kissed goodbye just seven days before when she got on a plane
with his father to go on the first vacation they had gone on without
the kids since those two children had been born.
No one had looked in the casket until the son had. He stared down
and exclaimed, “That’s not my mother.” Others rushed up and looked
into the silk-lined, wooden sarcophagus
where the heavily made-up bloated creature with the blond
hair lie with rosy cheeks, puffy eyes and triple chin. The super
expensive, completely empathetic funeral director was called
and said that they had done everything that they could do given
what they had to work with. What they had to work with prior
to the pumped-in fluids had been a beautiful, blond, forty-nine
year old wife, mother, sister, daughter whose brain gushed with
blood and then whose cells were stuffed, chuck full of medicinal
fluids that just didn’t get drained after death.
The casket was slammed shut never to be opened again, burned
into ashes in the inland sea. Guests from as far away as Kentucky
complained that they couldn’t have closure without
seeing the body. The son who first looked at the bloated body
squeezed into the oak boat and the daughter who kept busy pasting
photos so mourners would have views of her mom at her best
and the eighty-five-year old mother and the slightly older sister
and the husband who tried to hold his wife’s hand as she pushed
him away while screaming in pain on the gurney
knew there would never be the closure others sought and
would be granted but they just couldn’t let anyone see her that way.
They just couldn’t.