Memory—died August 3, 2015. The
death was not sudden but slowly over a
decade. I wonder if, when people die,
they hear a bell. Or if they taste
something sweet, or if they feel a knife
cutting them in half, dragging through
the flesh like sheet cake. The caretaker
who witnessed my mother’s death quit.
She holds the memory and images and
now they are gone. For the rest of her
life, the memories are hers. She said
my mother couldn’t breathe, then took
her last breath 20 seconds later. The
way I have imagined a kiss with many
men I have never kissed. My memory
of my mother’s death can’t be a
memory but is an imagination, each
time the wind blows, leaves unfurl
a little differently.
Music—died on August 7, 2015. I made
a video with old pictures and music for
the funeral. I picked Hallelujah in
acapella. Because they weren’t really
singing, but actually crying. When my
children came into the room, I
pretended I was writing. Instead I
looked at my mother’s old photos. The
fabric patterns on all her shirts. The
way she held her hands together at the
front of her body. In each picture, the
small brown purse that now sits under
my desk. At the funeral, my brother-in-
law kept turning the music down.
When he wasn’t looking, I turned the
music up. Because I wanted these
people to feel what I felt. When I
wasn’t looking, he turned it down
again. At the end of the day, someone
took the monitor and speakers away.
But the music was still there. This was
my first understanding of grief.