Mourning is such an odd thing. Well death is too. But mourning is really odd.
It doesn't necessarily happen at the time of death. Grief can come upon you with out you even realizing that it is happening.
Over a year ago, my father called me to give some news. My aunt had cancer. After hanging up the phone with him, I spontaneously combusted into tears. Thank the Lord that I was with a friend. I remembered my grandmother's cancer years before and within less than a year of the diagnosis she was gone.
The night my father called to tell me Auntie was gone I was sitting in the theater watching a dance concert. Afterward I sat in a car with two friends on the way out of the parking lot and checked my messages. I matter-of-factly blurted it out: My aunt just died 35 minutes ago.
For some reason, I did not want to allow myself the chance to spontaneously combust, and it was very easy not to; I was in Iowa. In fact, I was more inclined to smile.
I still am.
I realized that I wrap myself in Auntie every night. I have been for years. A while back she knit me an afghan in shades of pink, my favorite color. Now it's so stretched out from nights of snuggling to watch tv, or cold early mornings doing homework. It's been on my bed for years accompanied by the koala bear she gave me for my 10th birthday.
Then there was the cake. Stister got the recipe on Easter Sunday, her last lucid day. Uncle Eddie was begging for the recipes at the funeral. Pound cake. My favorite cake because when I was little I didn't like the icing on birthday cakes. Pound cake. Stister made it and it looked right. It sliced right. Daddy, son of Henrietta, brother of Margie, said it taste right.
Over the past week I came to realize that there's a little bit of Auntie all around me, always. I've been learning to drive. While driving Daddy's van he asked about the car of my best friend in Iowa who has been teaching me. "A Nissan Sentra. The car's name is Marge."
I danced to honor her. Overwhelmed, I cried. But that's it. Other than that, the water just welled when I saw her empty shell lying in a casket.
The night of the viewing I didn't pay the body any mind. I hugged my family who I hadn't seen in ages. We sat around. Chit chatted. Caught up. I marvelled at how all the Mosley boys had grown into men. Tall, lanky men. I recounted the details of my current endeavors and spouted my excitement for my impending graduation to anyone who asked.
The body in a casket was just a background for the action in the foreground.
Brothers spoke for the first time in a long time - since terrible words were exchanged.
Daughters who had moved long distance hugged their mother and father again.
Big cousins reconnected with little cousins and tried to give them a little advice.
Cousins the same age who had grown up like sisters, brothers and best friends stood together again like peas in a pod.
A son came to a father with a heart for forgiveness.
I am still inclined to smile. There was really no need for more than a few tears. The cliche tears of joy. But joy nonetheless, when celebration overwhelmingly replaces mourning.