Burying the Dead

 

I didn’t think it would happen this year. Not that I thought I wouldn’t think about it, I just hoped it would come and go before I realized it.

But then the Christmas lights went up, and the ghosts came down.

And there I was- standing in the middle of the store, trapped between boxes of stuffing and cans of cranberry sauce that towered over displays of pumpkin pie- sinking to my knees, watching them die…one by one by one.

But we weren’t going to do this again, remember? That was the deal. I just had to make it through one more Thanksgiving and one more Christmas, and then next year would be happy. This year would be happy.

But it was too late. The countdown had begun, your ghosts unleashed, and we were all going straight to hell…

Back to the accident.

But this year, it’s more than just the memory of it. It’s now morphed into this fucked up source of shame. I mean, honestly, it’s been three years, and they’re dead, and I’m not. It’s time to move on.

And then shame turns to guilt. Because what kind of person could just dismiss it and move on? And then comes rage, because I keep ending up in this horrible place. And I don’t want to write about it anymore.

But every night, they find their way in, under the covers and into my head, seizing my thoughts, ravaging my sleep, demanding words in exchange for peace.

And the hope that maybe next year, they’ll let me bury the dead.

It’s always the same scene that haunts me. But, it’s not of the accident. It’s a memory I’ve never had, in a place I’ve never seen.

I have no idea what his house looked like or how big his family was, or if he even celebrated Thanksgiving. But that’s where I go, to his living room- his family seated around a long table, lined with white porcelain plates, matching bowls and platters, all strategically placed around an elegant flower arrangement, candles on either side.

A younger version of him, maybe his little brother, strains to grab the bowl of stuffing his mom is passing to him, both reaching across the empty space between them, the one she always sets, where he no longer sits.

Dalí’s clocks came to mind,
As I studied you from the side.
The way your head tilted back,
Pouring down your spine.

On my knees, shivering
Staring at my phone,
Pulling up blades of grass,
One by one by one.

The silence, deafening,
Now drenched in blood,
No one was going to call,
No one was going to come.

Could you taste it, the smell:
Charred rubber and gas?
Could you feel it, the injustice…

I was holding my breath, while you were taking your last.

15 thoughts on “Burying the Dead

  1. Suppose I don’t need to explain why this post breaks my heart the way it does. Forever, you will carry the memory of those boys and that night, there is no avoiding it. What I hope though, is that one day they turn to light and become beacons of hope and inspiration that move you forward, rather than ghosts that haunt you and prevent you from fully living. They didn’t know you, but I believe through you they are given life, and that they would want for you to live free from guilt and with the understanding that you deserve happiness, more time, and all the things that were taken from them far too soon. I also believe that their loved ones would want the same. Remember, despite finding yourself alone and in despair on the side of a road in the presence of unimaginable horror and death, you survived. No one came, but you got up. You made choices that only someone with considerable strength could have made, and got yourself here. This place is better, stronger, and more beautiful than there. And here, there is hope. Love you, B.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brooke:
    Beautiful words written. I’m so sorry for your pain! I’m glad you have such a beautifully creative outlet. Thank you for sharing your heart ache….such amazing courage! ~j

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You do your memory of the tragedy justice as I suspect you will do, if not on paper, in your heart and mind at each return of the Earth, ’round the Sun, to this spot in the Universe.

    Only the living mourn. For it is a mixed curse, part remorse, part elation at the thought of being alive,

    Like

  4. And I’m crying now. I went back and reread about the accident, and my heart is just broken for you. There’s nothing you could have done–please don’t carry that burden of guilt around anymore. Much love to you, my beautiful friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I appreciate you saying that. I never think of it as brave, I guess. It took longer to work up the courage to push “publish” than to write this…to your point, I suppose. But this time, I had no choice; the words wouldn’t relent. I usually do my best to extract some sort of good or “gift” out of most things. But this time, nothing would come but the dark part of what feels like the neverending aftermath.
      Anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to read this and offer your extremely kind words. They help, they really do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so glad. What you’ve been through? Many wouldn’t cope. There is no person as strong as someone like you. You’ve been pushed into experiencing one of the worst… THE worst, accidents. It was an accident but that never seems to satisfy our own continued questioning of what ifs. The best to you Brooke.💜

        Liked by 1 person

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