Posted by: Ingrid | July 7, 2007

img126.jpg  We drove out to Santa Nella today, out on the 99 past Los Banos out in the middle of nowhere.  We drove north through the relentless valley heat.  We drove through the 100 and something degree weather that nearly suffocates you as you walk outside and hasn’t really cooled off in several days.  We drove, all six of us in the van, out to the the cemetary.  San Joaquin National Cemetary.  I guess I expected… green?  Trees?  Shade?  But no.  It was as hot an arid as the brown hills we drove through en route.  She would have liked it though, it a weird sort of way.  She liked historical off-the-road sorts of stops.  Stops that usually drew groans and complaints from the rest of us on car trips, but that was Mom.  It’s a place she would have stopped.  She would have stood at the top of the hill in the constant gust of hot dry wind.  The place we stood as we watched them lower the casket from far away.  She would have watched the lone bird gliding overhead and wondered what kind it was.  She would have made sure we all wore sunscreen and asked if someone “wanted” to get the water out of the car because she was thirsty.

It was like a mini family reunion at the brief 15 minutes service.  We sat as David and Pastor played violin and guitar… “What a Friend we have in Jesus”… “Jesus Loves Me” and then we sang “Amazing Grace”…  Just enough music to break through the numbness before we were given words.  The music I could handle but the words burried any emotion I could possibly feel.  Numb again.  Incorruptible bodies… blah, blah, blah… Don’t give me words while my mom is lying dead in a grey casket and I’ll never see her again.  Don’t talk about how wonderful it is that Jesus is going to come back and raise our dead physical bodies.  I.  Don’t.  Care.   

So I stared off at the ridge, over the pile of sunflowers and bright roses and irises now bedraggled and wilted in the heat.  I was okay with the numbness, until the Pastor pulled out his trumpet, saying that since the first sound we would hear when Christ came back would be trumpet he would end that way as well.  He moved behind a pillar until only the glint of metal could be seen.  “Taps”, slow and aching, and suddenly there were more tears.

And now she’s gone.  We left her there.  Left her out in the hot brown valley.  Brown now, but maybe it turns green in the spring.  If only we could have planted a willow tree above her grave.

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