Yesterday someone who helped organize your funeral dropped off the photos she had taken there.
I had asked for them.
I slid in the disc and took a breath.
And there I saw photos of it all. Evidence that it really happened.
I don’t look at all of them- just open up a few here and there in sequential order.
There are your friends looking at photo albums and framed photos of you in the back amidst burning candles. There is the casket- and one shot that reveals your body in it in the distance. Thankfully, there are no close-ups. I find I am thankful for the shot because it looks more like I would’ve imagined from a distance- like you asleep. Up close, that is not how you looked at all.
There is the receiving line, and there I am…standing with the shawl you brought me back from Japan draped over my shoulders. I am pale. My hair is much shorter than now. (I have not had it cut since last May- part of the grieving I think.) I look so calm.
The next day- the funeral. More people- shots of the whole church full of heads. There is sorrow in the photographs. Sorrow in the faces. Shots of the musicians playing their pieces. A shot of the closed casked with the ribbon: Loving husband and father. There I am up at the podium reading my final letter to you. My face is surprisingly composed. And there I am during the closing prayer and hymn holding Audrey, she is smiling brightly- her brightly colored flower dress- the one she wore on Father’s Day just a few weeks prior- chosen for that reason by me and because I thought a baby should look bright and not dark no matter what- that brightly colored flower dress against my black dress- and my face in that photo- shows the sorrow. It is gaunt and my eyes are empty.
The burial. There I am sitting on one of those furry chairs on one of the hottest days of the summer. There is the casket. Another receiving line- black umbrellas held over your mother and I to block out the hot sun as we embrace each person on the line.
I am grateful for these photos though it’s hard to say why. They help me process and believe what it’s taking almost as much faith to believe has occurred as it does to believe you might still “be” somewhere.
Having the documentation is like touching the mystical haze that surrounded me during those days, weeks, and months and still clings on.
There I am