The death of her mother, the realization of it, her deepest feelings, underpin this speech.
At first there is this terrible shock, and you’re sick and shattered. Then there is this period
where you are more or less numb; with people coming by the house and telephoning and
bringing in food. It’s like you’re in this kind of unreal state, half sleeping, half awake.
Then there is the preparing for the funeral. You go with your father to pick out the casket.
You listen to the undertaker talk to your dad very quietly. About her makeup, her
clothing, the flowers. He’s sympathetic but also very professional and cold. This is when
the realities begin to set in and your mind races and just thinking makes you hurt inside.
Then there’s the funeral home. For two afternoons and evenings you’re there. People
come and say nice things and you nod respectfully and they sign the register and leave.
You watch them through the windows as they go off to their cars. You see them talking,
laughing, making plans. Already their minds are off of my mother. They’ve come by,
paid their respects, and they’re back to living again.
At the cemetery, you see some of them again. Those who had been especially close, the
real friends. The sun is hot on my back, and I can feel the perspiration running down my
sides. It is so quiet I can hear my heart pounding. The only sound is the wind moving the
trees. A few words are said over the casket. I don’t remember them because I wasn’t
listening. I didn’t give a damn about the words; I just wanted her back.
Afterwards, we go home and sit in the kitchen. My father, my brothers, and I. We don’t
say much. And there is so much to say. We just sit there in silence. I feel like bursting.
I’m so full of feelings.
The house is like this shadow of what it was when she was alive. But, you know, Mother
is still around because she’s in my memories. I hear her laughing and calling our names
and talking with Aunt Julie on the phone. I hear her footsteps on the porch; I hear her
snapping out pillow slips upstairs while humming this little tune. She’s gone but she’s
still here. She’s everywhere.
As time passes, the sadness passes, too. Every day you come a little more out of the fog,
you know. As the days pass, you get back your laughter and get on with living. But there
is still like this emptiness. Maybe there always will be. But slowly you adjust to it. Like
they say—life goes on. But she’ll always be here, always. Her spirit will never die.