I don’t remember Harmony’s funeral. Wait, I lie. I do remember some things. Like the plain room, the color of churned butter. The metal chairs with carpeted seats. All aligned facing the open casket. The slow stream of weeping people, that treaded down the center. Reluctantly out of obligation, respect or whatever, to stare into her empty face. A mask. But this is every funeral. I wondered how many people were genuine. I tried to look into their eyes, but I was the one who looked away. I was her favorite and I didn’t feel a thing.
They had put too much color on her face. She was never the colorful type. She always looked shy when she wore red lipstick, even though she blushed for compliments. But the compliments seemed to close her up and made her look the other way. Now they’ve added all sorts of makeup to her face. Colors she’s never worn before. But she still had the permanent creases at the center of her brow. They couldn’t hide that. As if she still worried. Still self-conscious. But I guess we all are. Even at a funeral.
The last time I touched her was at the hospital after they declared her dead. My father, her first son, asked me to help her change out of the hospital gown and into her favorite lavender two piece dress. Rigor mortis had already seized her body. I should’ve touched her sooner.
It was hard to get Harmony’s legs to lift even an inch off the mattress to pull the skirt up from under her. I never imagined her being that heavy. She was short and stout but she never took up much space. A quiet woman with few words, she seldom stood in anyones way. Harmony was an observer, a listener. In home videos, she was the one in the back corner. The one eating silently. After that night, I wondered about the human soul. How it’s always portrayed lifting up and out of the body like a balloon. Made me realize that it’s the soul that makes us lighter. Makes us want to fly. And it is this body that holds us down.
That night, before she took her last breath, she was singing a hymn. Both daughters sang along, one clutched on each side. When it finally happened, I searched the ceiling hoping to catch a glimpse of her.
But like I said, I didn’t feel anything at her funeral, even as I stood staring down at her face. I knew she wasn’t there. There was nothing in this world that could’ve held her down. She was freed from her disease stricken body, that burden. She passed the test. Yet there were people mourning. So many sad people, I’ve never seen before.
I don’t remember much, but I do remember refilling my styrofoam cup, many times with weak coffee, just to leave the room. I wandered the halls alone and sat in every vacant room, hoping I might get a visit.
It was several months after, that I’ve finally felt her absence. After I’ve left Milwaukee and back to Los Angeles. Alone in my room writing about her, to her. And now I feel her almost everyday.