A.D. Monroe and Susan Bee

Susan Bee
Inspiration piece

A.D. Monroe
Response piece

BACK CHURCH ROOM

So I found myself lost.

I was at a funeral. An uncle of mine. Great guy. Things had always been good between us. The only problem I had with him – I could never beat him at horseshoes. Pissed me off. But it was a good pissed off. Made us closer in that guy-thing kind of way. Not that we’d ever talk about it like that, of course.

During the service I got lost in my head, remembering good times at Fourth of July parties. Keg beer. Hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and sausages grilling on the barbeque, the smell carrying in the smoke. Kids playing Marco Polo in the pool.

And of course horseshoes. Like the sound of my uncle’s last toss, the horseshoe clanking onto the metal spike to win the game. Some people groaning – damn it, he did it again. Other people in awe, cheering.

Remembering the good times.

Then like it goes, I got lost in my head with regrets and beating myself up. All the times I’d said, hey, let’s go to that pizza joint you love and grab a pie. And all the times we never did. Mostly because he couldn’t drive. So it was on me to get down to his place and pick him and I didn’t. Something seemly important getting in the way.

Then he was in a nursing home. I meant to go see him, thinking maybe I’d get the pizza he loved and bring it in for him. But things went so fast. There were sudden complications and he was in the ER. Then hospice. And my aunt told me it was so sad. Like out of nowhere his memory was gone. Probably the stroke. He couldn’t remember people. Some days he couldn’t even remember my aunt, his wife of 53 years.

Then he died.

Here for so long, gone so fast.

After the funeral service I got up to find a bathroom. I was in a daze and had no idea where I was going. I didn’t bother asking. I just kind of plowed through to where I thought a bathroom should be.

I was still lost in my head, dazed in my mind.

I knew it was coming. But I how to do you get ready for someone dying really? If someone knows they sure haven’t told me.

It seemed like yesterday he was kicking my ass in horseshoes.

Today I watched the pall bearers wheel his coffin out. The lady from the funeral home, her face pasty with make-up, gave directions on how to move the coffin along without dropping it. She was matter of fact and bored. She did her best to be sincere about how hard death is on the living. But death was a 9 to 5 grind for her, Monday through Friday, even on weekends.

I was beating myself up something bad, something fierce. I should’ve gotten over to see him. How could I have been so stupid? Such and idiot. Like that. On and on. I don’t know why I assume someone’s going to be here tomorrow.

When I finally snapped out of the brain-fog, I found myself in some back room in the church. I didn’t know how I got there. I wasn’t sure of where I was. And I really didn’t really know how to get back to where I’d come from.

It fit.

I was lost in my head, in a funeral daze.

So why not be lost right here and now, too?

The quiet kind of rushed me. I closed my eyes and let the tears come for a beat. Then when I opened my eyes I took a look around.

I stood under this opened, arched doorway. There was a workman’s ladder leaning to the side, the ladder reaching up at least fourteen feet to the ceiling. The whole room looked like it had been forgotten for years. Left to fall into disrepair from neglect.

Now someone was getting ready to fix it up.

The walls were cement and chipping. Workmen had started scraping. There were at least three different coats of paint, maybe even four, from different times in the past when the walls had gotten a fresh coat. Patches now of faded turquoise green, blue, and purple.

On the ceiling there were four by four wood beams going one way. Behind the four by fours were cross beams. Some were a deep blue, like they’d just been painted. Others were a fading, forgotten blue. Others were bare wood, not sanded and rough, not ready for a coat of paint. And some of the cross beams had perfect squares of white wash – like someone had meticulously began to prep the wood for paint, then went on lunch break months ago.

Except for the ladder there was nothing in the room that said any workmen were going to come back. My first thought – why the hell would they stop half way? And when are they going come back and get to it? Finish up like they should.

But on second look.

The room was rough and not finished, all of it wrong in one way. Yet in another way there was a calm and serene beauty in all its rough edges. Like I heard a little kid say once at one of those Fourth of July parties – it’s more-better this way.

I could’ve brought my uncle a 1000 pizzas and I wouldn’t have been ready to lay him the ground today. I can hope someone can tell me how to get ready for someone dying. But chances are no one has any better answers than I already have. It’s a messy and unfinished thing that comes to a full stop.  

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One Comment

  1. Robert Haydon Jones
    Posted December 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm | #

    Real messy. And it comes to a stop.

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