I watched them carry her, carefully and with a strained aloofness, so as not to upset the family who, crowded around the hearse that was ready to cart her away, stared longingly at its license plates as though their eyes might pierce through the steel and plastic to bring her back. Unfortunately, I thought, the world doesn't work that way, no matter how hard we gaze upon the distance between us and the hearse. It was after these thoughts walked a mile in my mind that I, having stood patiently through the services, turned to my girlfriend, Susan Dee, whose tears were collecting in a little puddle in our clenched hands and saw a face that contained all the world's tragedies. Then, looking further down, I recognized the beachball-sized stomach that was to be my first son. I quickly wiped the wetness from my palms on my pants, thinking to myself how such an event of contradiction could occur when I realized that it was already three o' clock in the afternoon. We had somehow teleported ourselves outside and I could now feel the vague brush of a slight breeze across my face.
"So are you alright?" I overheard a voice break the barrier of silence.
"Of course not, circumstances considered." Another voice replied as I turned to see who had spoken. I understood the first voice to belong to a tall, bony woman who, through the glare of sunlight on her glasses, peered at the owner of the second. This man was of portly, robust stature and his entire body shook as his words boomed forth from behind a bushy grey-brown beard.
"Well, I have to ask, I mean, don't I? I've said so many 'I'm sorries' that I'm beginning to sound like a broken record." The man looked down at his shoes as he said this.
"I suppose we must ask. I mean, who wouldn't want to know the answer to the question anyway? If there's anything worth knowing, that has got to be at the top of the list." She looked up at the sky and sighed. I myself looked up and had a rare moment of agreement with the forcast.
"Was she a religious woman?" The man asked after a moment of silence. "I mean, I definitely heard the pastor mention something about her coming to church every Sunday, but I don't know, sometimes its hard to believe what he says, you know, his only loves are God and the bottle."
"Yes, she was. I know that she was. Had to be, if you ask me."
The man looked puzzled, but replied "Had to be? Why's that?"
"Isn't it obvious? The terrible state she was in, suffering all that time, and never, not once, did she go to any hospital or nursing home for help!" As the woman said this a car pulled up next to her, she spoke with the driver and turned back to the man.
"I'm sorry, I have to get going, I'll give my sister your regards, and dear, I really am very sorry for your loss." She then got into the vehicle and drove off the parking lot.
I watched as the man seemed to grow heavier in his suit as he stood, puzzled. But I also noticed a slight look of some sort of gratitude...or was it satisfaction?
I walked over to comfort him. "I'm really sorry for your loss, sir. I hope that you aren't too disheartened from all of this? "
"No, no, I'm sorry." He put up both hands as he said this. "There's no more need for all this sorrow anyway. I just hope that, up there in heaven. you know, Mrs. Dee knows what kinda legacy she left behind."
"What legacy is that?" I responded quizzically.
"Oh, I don't know, I'm only meeting the woman for the first time. I never really knew her, you know. But anyway, enjoy the rest of your time here Mr...uhh..?"
"Er...Whitten, John Whitten." I shook his hand, feeling quite suave for saying my name in the old James Bond fashion. He gave me one last look before jioning the throng of mourners leaving the lot.
My girlfriend came up from behind me as I watched the man slowly waddle away. Grabbing my arm from the middle, she looked up at me, with tears in her eyes. Between sobs, she managed to explain to me that the man whom I had been conversing with was her grandfather.