The wake was difficult. Seeing my cousins. My familial peers, older now. So much older than I remember them. I'm older too, all of a sudden.
My uncle was the summertime. Fireworks and long afternoons full of laughter and beer. Kooky patents and tinkering with tools. A man who loved his garage and his dogs and his family. A man's man. At the wake there were flowers in the shape of the Yankees symbol.
At the funeral the next day I couldn't get to my cousin. Flanked by closer family she sat up front in the church. I focused on her beautiful long hair. Remembering how she used to make me sing her to sleep. And how she taught me how to blow dry my bangs so that they framed my face.
During the Catholic Mass (and others I'm sure) there is a moment when we are supposed to "wish each other peace." It's usually an awkward time when germ weary people are forced to touch one another. I kissed the people around me and then looked up to see what she was doing. She was staring right at me and the world stood still.
In my cousin's eyes there was a horror and a panic I won't soon forget. It made me want to crawl over the pews to her, breaking open the casket on the way so that I could shake my uncle and wake him up. To tell him "STOP" this stupid dying thing. Because she was hurting. Oh God how she was hurting.
We whispered love to each other through the silent stare. And I know, rationally, that she's okay. But that desperate weight of grief will make her stutter forever.
Time can make our hands and legs move again. Even our mouths. But the horror of pain stays in the heart and in the eyes. It's always fresh. And we move so that we may exist... always knowing a little of our breath is captured next to our father in the casket.