I could not sleep. Ratchet was having a panic attack; panting hard, shifting around in pain and shaking. He knows something’s wrong but he can’t talk about it…because he’s a dog. He’s not worried about global viruses or running out of toilet paper. It’s the bump on his leg. We had the biopsy last Thursday. It feels helpless being a therapist and a mother, when you can’t communicate with someone you so desperately want to comfort and help. I smoothed over him with a cool cloth and an ice pack till he settled down. I kept telling him it’s ok, it’s ok Bubs, even though none of us know what’s gonna happen, yet.
Eventually, the room filled with snoring sounds and I slept just long enough to get an important message.
We were preparing for Edward’s second funeral; my great grandfather. Edward was there, along with all my aunts, uncles, cousins and his wife, Mabel.
The funeral home was more like a European apartment. Spacious, long and sparsely furnished in laminated wood and floral furniture. The gently cracking, stucco walls were pale peach, blue, white and matched nothing. The floor was poured and orange concrete; like walking on melted clementine rinds.
There was a small table inside the entrance, laid out with white paper napkins, a silver stack of wet forks and a haphazard collection of packaged chips and canned appetizers in plastic shopping bags. Women were washing and chopping in the kitchen which was just on the other side of the table.
Children wandered through the room in Easter clothes even though it wasn’t Easter. Untethered. Unaware. Unsteady hatchlings, they littered the room with hope.
Kyle and I walked from our hotel on East Earle Street (there are no hotels on East Earle Street), up and down the steep, sun bleached sidewalks, past the red and white uniforms of the Portuguese street musicians who were waiting outside the funeral home to sing Edward to sleep for the second time. There had been bagpipes the first time but somehow these men seemed familiar or at least, invited.
Their long white banners, however, had a different name, spray painted in black letters. Who was he? Maybe they couldn’t afford to make two banners. Grandpa wouldn’t mind. We surely didn’t.
Edward was standing in the entryway in front of a green, plant wall. The lattice window behind the plants illuminated him in yellow and blue light. He was wearing a navy suit and powder blue shirt with a silver and grey patterned tie. 6 ft 2 and smiling with both eyes, even though one was just for show. I introduced him to Kyle and he just kept smiling. He was the happiest I’d ever seen him.
Kyle joined the group of happy mourners in the front room. They mingled around the empty viewing platform; an extra high, floral, tufted sofa of sorts, with a ruffled skirt. We carried on ignoring it and instead, focused intensely on each other.
It felt good, if not strange, to be with people.
I turned around to look at him, really stare at his face. My head filled with a thousand questions which he seemed to hear. He scooped me into a waltz, right there in front of the plant wall and the bowl of potato salad. His hands were warm on my back and shoulder. I felt safe and secure even though my feet weren’t touching the ground.
The whole reason we’re here, the only thing that matters, the reason I can back just now, He was speaking! He could talk! And I could hear him. His breath still smelled like tea. It’s love.
Long story short, I had a radically lucid dream where I got to waltz with my long since gone great grandpa (on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day, which I forgot about. St. Patrick is also the name of the church where four generations of my family were born, married and buried). Apparently Edward made a long trip to let us know the whole point of everything is love.
I love you, Love, my strength.–psalm 18