It’s Not the Things! (a story)
The house was draped in mourning. All the mirrors were covered, all the things that belonged to the deceased were packaged and put away. Their name wasn’t spoken. For fear that the spirit would be called back from their journey to the afterlife.
And in that house was a mother who had lost their baby. a father who had lost their hope, a wife who had lost her lover and children who had lost their father. People who were so wrapped up in grief that they couldn’t do the work needed.
So they called in my crew.
We cleaned the house from top to bottom. Emptied his chest, his dresser, his closets, his desk, even changed the bedding and towel sets. Everything was wrapped up and put in thick plastic bags. And put in a corner of the garage, along with his tools. His car was driven to a long term storage lot and it would rest there for the next few months. Till the family was ready to have that reminder of him again. Or traded or sold.
. . . .
And the family sat in mourning. They wailed, they gnashed their teeth. They refused to brush their hair or their teeth. They wore the same clothes they wore when they found out that he was dead. For seven days. No showers, no hip baths even.
They nibbled toast and PB if they felt hungry. They drank water or milk if they were thirsty. And they used the toilet as needed. Some of them dozed in their chairs when their eyes just couldn’t stay open anymore.
Except for the kids.
They were put to bed when night came. And given proper meals. They were hugged and loved up by all the adults. Because they were still little souls in need of nurturing and had just lost their father.
One of the distant teen cousins took the kids to the park every afternoon to get their energy used up and get some fresh air. Let them run around a bit. And the adults said prayers for the departed.
All without saying his name.
Until finally the week was up.
They took turns taking showers, changed their clothes and brushed their teeth and hair. Then they sat down to a meal their church ladies had put together. And they toasted his life. They told stories abour him as a son, a father, and a husband. And they smiled at his good deeds and humour.
They pronounced him a good man. They uncovered the mirrors. And they left the house.
They left the family to pick up the pieces. Well… at least to begin to pick them up.
. . . .
The next day, the man’s friends got together and had a memorial for him. They told jokes and stories about the man. They smoked his brand of cigar, drank his fave hooch, ate his fave meal and laughed and cried together. Then lit candles and passed the hat for his family. Whatever they could give was appreciated.
Then they went home and got on with their lives. As they could.
. . . .
On the day he died, the man was wrapped and spiced and preserved. Till the crew could put him in the ground or burn his corpse. A member of the family and one of his friends witnessed his internment or cremation. And his body was disposed of. All without saying a word, so his soul would not be called back.
. . . .
When the week was up, the crew helped the wife go thru his belongings and decide how they would be disposed of. Some were kept as momentos. But most were given away.
. . .
And all that was left was his memory. As it should be.
. . . .
His wife’s parents moved into the house to help her with the children. Because he was gone. And life goes on.