At the front of the room we see you.
Or, rather, the skin you slid from
- snake-like -
as you abandoned the old
to enter the new.
Your cousin skips down the aisle
in her pretty new dress
her blonde hair and sunny smile
juxtaposed against the darkness
shadowing her daddy's face
- one hand holding hers gently,
the other white-knuckled with pain.
A tow-headed boy squeals in outrage,
confined unwillingly to the lap
of a flustered relative.
She smiles at us
and offers him the use of her phone
- electronic panaceas
that fail to placate him
and don't begin to touch the edges
of her own sorrow.
And we sit clustered towards the back.
- embodying the useful Italian word:
Our eyes are snared
by your casket
- horrifyingly beautiful
with its Cardinals red
and innocent white.
We see you - oh, we do!
But we also see,
cast over you as shadows,
the haunting faces
of our own lost sons.
It is a relief to be distracted
from these somber reflections
by joys and by tantrums.
Children play at funerals.
They play and they continue to play
until we adults, in our wisdom,
make them stop.
Will, I confess to you now
the greatest sadness
is not in seeing the shell where you once lived
nor your shattered parents
- aunts, uncles, grandparents -
and certainly not your playing cousins.
Although all those things
do break my heart a little more.
The greatest sadness
is seeing the miniature grown-ups
in the front few rows.
Aged to adulthood
a decade before their time.
Sat in silent reflection
of the knowledge that some part of childhood
- some small measure of the joy of play -
has been stolen from them
Children play at funerals
Let them play.
Let them play!
For far worse
than the chatter of the child
who doesn't understand,
is the silence...
...of the child who does.
September 26, 2014
~ If you would like to help the Hayes family with the expenses associated with losing Will please visit their go fund me page.