#2. Official First Chapter? Wherein I WATCH THE PARTYING MOURNERS FROM BEHIND A BUNCH OF ORANGE FLOWERS
It’s over. We had a memorial service at the stone chapel near Raging River, which was not.
I can’t remember much of what was said except this. One of the readers quoted Abraham Lincoln, “it’s not the years in a life, it’s the life in the years.”
Words as comforting as peroxide on a cut. When President Lincoln’s kids, Tad, Edward, and Willie died, he couldn’t have uttered this.
I don’t process most of the words. They were like that blah blah background grown-up talk in Charlie Brown TV specials.
In the front row, Pop and Mimi clamp onto us like Dad’s woodwork vise, the one with super sturdy metal and wide wide “jaws.” I use this vise, Izzy, for the heavy-duty projects, Dad would explain while I sat on the cellar steps just above the work bench. See? The vise keeps it all from coming apart.
Sam, Clyde, and I are Mimi and Pop’s heavy-duty projects. Otherwise, I know we’d come apart.
Now we’re back at Pop’s. The twins and I are hiding out on a glider behind a tall wooden trellis loaded with viney, orange trumpet-shaped flowers. They’re glorious. Inappropriately jolly?
What a minute, Isabel. Give it a rest.
Clyde and Sam had a playgroup we brought them to for a while; we stopped because one of the mothers was always scolding kids for being “inappropriate.” Honestly? At age 2!! So, take a lesson, self. These flowers are perfect. Mom would be pointing out how their shape suits Hummingbirds.
I peer at the bunches of people in the backyard. If you didn’t know, you’d think this was a picnic. Pop calls the crowd the partying mourners. Some party.
Right now one of Mom’s scientist buddies is talking to Mimi. Just last week I was at Mom’s lab waiting for her. The two of them were comparing slides, talking about honey bee mouth parts. Now he looks up at the trumpet trellis and gives a tiny wave.
Sam and Clyde are rolling their little trucks back and forth on the seat slats. It’s weird though. Unlike usually, they make no noise. None. It’s like their volume control knob is turned all the way to OFF. If Mom were here, she’d be holding their foreheads and murmuring, where you gone, little guys?
But they’re not. Gone, that is.
And she is.
And there’s this killer, not even in jail. Even though he made Mom and Dad go off the road and roll down a hill.
And, unlike the river, I am, raging that is.
Isabel-It’s me, Mimi. While I was handing out melon balls on toothpicks to the partying mourners, I came up with a metaphor. I know you like such and so I will attempt to explain my juxtaposition in writing.
We will have to be like the forest. You know how trees have roots? (Well, of course you do.) The traditional way of thinking about tree roots is that they hold their particular tree into the soil and nourish it. But did you know that in a forest, the roots of different trees communicate with each other? So, if one tree needs nitrogen, another tree that has extra will send it over. It’s as if the root systems are connected with hyphens, hyphenated to each other. (In fact, your Mom, I so loved to call her Miriam, your Mom said that this nourishment is carried by HYPHAE!!)
You,me, Clyde, Sam, and Pop are terribly traumatized and horribly sad; but, like the trees in a forest we are each other’s underground support system.
And as I switched to offering stuffed mushrooms to the crowd today, I wondered this also: These roots of ours, reaching out to each other? Who’s to say, your Mom and Dad aren’t part of the communicating? Think about this: this rich forest soil that supports all the living trees is made possible by what’s died.
Egad. Love you, dear girl.