Friday, June 25, 2004

At the visitation the archaeologists sit at the back to the right. I sit in the last row next to Stacy and weep, glancing up to see my friend and his wife standing in front of the flower-draped casket, receiving condolences. Their 19-years-and-one-day-old son is gone. It seems unbearable, I know how much he was loved, how proud his parents were of him. The boy's friends cluster toward the front, the young men crying and not being embarrassed by it, the girls sobbing softly. You can't hear that because there is music playing, modern music that he liked, seemingly out-of-place like the elaborate floral displays that he wouldn't have been interested in.

The pews are blonde wood, with a folding kneeling rail which I study, study, study because if I can only figure out how it works I won't cry. But that little exercise doesn't work and Dottie puts her arm around me and I wipe away the tears. Lots of boxes of tissues, not a wastebasket anywhere. Later I go up to them and "I'm so sorry," and he says, "I am so glad you came." I think about this when I sit back down and realize that he needs to know we care, and I do. I agonize over how awful it is that his only child is gone.

They have very close friends, and they have been spending a lot of time with them, talking and talking and talking. I worry what will happen next week when the family and friends go away and it is quiet. How do you fill in the gaps, the holes? How do you make sense of something that is completely senseless? I don't think there are any real answers. Maybe these are dumb questions to even wonder about. I wish things could have been different.

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