Six years ago today, I went to the opera to see Messiaen’s St Francis of Assisi, because it was the last night and I had a ticket and all the critics were raving about it.
Some people might think that I’m too willing to sacrifice them for the sake of music. My mother died alone because I was at the opera. And if I’ll do that, what could anybody else matter in comparison?
We buried mom with some things of hers. My dad tried to give them to the mortician ahead of time. But he said to bring them back later.
We had a rosary at the funeral home. Her casket was in the room. We said ten Hail Marys and went home.
My dad had in his hands some things of hers to put with her. So the mortician opened up the casket in the front of the room, so Dad could put them in.
My dad who wanted a closed casket. My dad who had to call somebody to take her body away the morning after she went.
He put in there her teddy bear that she’d held for the last few weeks and her volunteer badge for the historical museum and a few other things. I forget what.
One of my mother’s friends saw the lid lifted and approached. Wanting to view the corpse. My mom had wished for a closed casket funeral. So her friend was disappointed. Palpably so.
But it didn’t matter because none of it could actually possible be happening.
This is not how she would want to be remembered. This isn’t the story she would want me to tell. It’s what’s on my mind, crowding out other memories.