Flash in the Pan

A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights

Saying Goodbye

by Ed Martin

I watched as the track team carried the casket up the center aisle. Around me, unknown cousins dabbed at their eyes with tissues, and in front of me an aunt blew her nose. At my side my brother was silent, stoic. He hadn't known the boy either.

My gaze meandered around the church, filled to capacity and beyond. The deceased had been popular, an iconic figure in the community. Or perhaps his former classmates just wanted a day off from school, wanted to say they'd attended the funeral. Surely they couldn't all be this distraught over a mere acquaintance?

I thought of his Facebook page, the messages growing on his wall as news of his death spread. "Even though we weren't close, I miss you. RIP." "Earth's loss is Heaven's gain. I wish you'd reached out to someone." "So sorry for your family's loss." All vague, trying to comfort his family and cover up the impersonal relationship they'd had with him.

After the service—-Look at the pictures of saints, focus on what people are wearing, don't look at the raw emotion of his younger brother-—we mourners gathered outside the church before heading to the parish hall for lunch. The atmosphere shifted as we came out into the bright winter sunshine. Cellphones appeared. Students made plans for the weekend, for the rest of the afternoon. People smiled, cautiously, and then we laughed.

If he were watching down on us, I thought he'd be happy with his send-off.

ED Martin draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of "what if" thrown in. She currently lives in Davenport, Iowa, where she job hops while working on her novels. Read more of her works at www.edmartinwriter.com.

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