The beginning of something comes at the end of (?)

They were both just…gone.  Alone, on the bench, most of the crowd moved on into the nearby church.  There were no more polite words to acknowledge, no more hugs or handshakes to receive.  It was possible to breathe.  It was… better, this way.

Over the years the de facto response had always been avoidance, denial; a sometimes grim acceptance of their relationship.  Certainly early in adulthood there had been hurt feelings, sometimes after the fact, when the realization struck that others had fuller, more supportive, richer relationships with their parents.  Back then it had left a sour taste, one of regret and some anger but even that had died down.  Over the years anyway.  Now, even that was just, over.  Now it was imperative they simply move forward.

When the obligatory ham salad sandwiches had been eaten and the ice tea had been drunk there would be the dividing of the flowers.  Some would go to nursing homes or elsewhere, some probably home with them or their kids, and that would be that.  They’d walk away with only the financial things to handle, the house, the possessions, things unimportant to either sibling really.  It seemed they’d already missed the important parts.  The truth of the matter was they never really had a shot at them in the first place.

Mom’s nurturing had been slight at best; Dad, not at all.  They’d never quite made a connection, at least not a lasting one.  Funny, a sardonic smile actually passed over, over all those years, never able to build some kind of bridge, some kind or relationship.  Some bond, some… thing that would create an emotion here at the cemetery when both of them had been taken so suddenly.  But, what, what emotion?  What was it, what should it be, what could it have been?  Whatever it might have been there was only one certainty; it wasn’t present and it wouldn’t be.  What was left was the realization that the hurt, the tears, the heartache at their passing would have been far superior to this emptiness.  Perhaps all those emotions would come later, a surprise on some random Tuesday in traffic at a red light to be named later.  None of that was certain and in a way, frightening.  In some ways fear drove both siblings, now parents, to, perhaps, hover too much over their offspring.

Their kids, perhaps by force of will or hopefully observation, valued things of family.  Weddings, birthdays, of course holidays and even odd, eclectic “traditions” became a part of the things they cherished.  Things neither of the siblings, their parents, would have identified, desensitized as they had been in their upbringing, came to mean something to their progeny.  Lunch at a café after the shopping was done for Thanksgiving.  Hot cocoa once the Christmas tree was picked out.  Even the drive down a particular road on the way home from fireworks on the Fourth of July.  These were the things they picked up on and expected.  These things meant family to them.  A grimace came at the realization there hadn’t been any of those things for them growing up.  Certainly at the weddings and some big anniversaries, once in a while in a moment of uncommon sharing there seemed to be a spark but it was fleeting at best.

A stirring and a rustle close by brought those thoughts to a close and pulled them into the present.  The blades of grass that had accepted what must have been a blank stare for how long it was uncertain, seemed to say, “Hey, check your left dummy, you’re not alone.”  A slow pan to that side confirmed it.  There sat the sibling, with what must have been a mirror of the countenance almost certain to dominate what they saw as the two met each other’s gaze.


Perhaps they both said it.  Looking back, neither would remember.  The words weren’t what was important, even less so who had brought them into existence.  The vital part, the important part, the part that would be a starting point to sustain the future for them, the two who would be “the family” going forward, was the knowing.  The knowing that their shared experience, their shared emptiness, the shared hole both owned, would only be filled by each other and their families and that the filling was something they could both do, would both do.

Today, was that beginning.

Emotions are a funny, unpredictable thing.  Often we have no idea what they’ll be until we’re right in the middle of them.  Sometimes they knock us for such a loop our only saving grace is to move forward and get through them.

I write about life and sometimes that means the end of it and loss.  But I don’t always write just about loss.  I invite you to check out my other writing at my blog by clicking here.  I also invite you to subscribe for free.  It’s easy and means you will receive an email on Sundays with links to the week’s posts.  You can subscribe at my blog or here by clicking this.