Tuesday, December 22, 2009


i've got a photograph in my head. it's a photograph that never got taken and never will. (you may remember i have a thing about un-taken photographs). if i could paint it or sketch it, i would (but you may also know that i have not an artistic bone in my body, so i can't). the thing is, people don't bring cameras to their children's funerals.

there is a lot i don't remember about eliza's funeral. like the names of the hundreds of people i hugged at the end of the service. like who made all the food for the reception afterwards, the reception i never even saw. like how my minivan managed to get to the church, when we arrived in a limousine. like what time the service started. like how i managed to remain upright and composed-ish for all those hours.

but there's a lot that's burned in my memory, too. like this un-taken photograph.

sam, luke, and i arrived at the cemetery. i don't know who was there, though i remember being surprised at how many people were. the un-taken photograph is of that scene, as we arrived. it's something like this one of the cemetery, taken last week...

...only not much at all like that. first of all, there's no snow. the un-taken photograph is black and white and gray, but much less white without all the snow and much more gray because it's drizzling. second of all, there's the tent-thing that funeral homes set up for burials, with chairs filled with faceless people and more faceless people standing behind them underneath, turned sideways from us, facing the casket, which is there in the front of the tent-thing on the right of the photograph, starkly white. a few more faceless people are nearer in the foreground, greeting us as we get out of the limousine. and there's lots of black and white and gray and indistinguishability (is that a word? should be).

but there's one spot of color.

(you've seen photographs like that, right? like my silly blue bin one? where everything is black and white except one thing?) the night before the funeral, i gave eliza's purple coat to our dearest friends' (and eliza's godparents) daughter, who is the closest thing eliza had to a sister. it fit her perfectly, and she was, for a four-year-old, remarkably honored and pleased to have something of her god-sister's to wear. in the foreground of my un-taken photograph is this sweet four-year-old, her back to us, running in the grass in eliza's purple coat, dirty-blond-ish hair flying.

one bright spot of color.

the coat was intended to be a gift to this little girl, but her wearing it that day--and its impression on the un-taken photograph in my mind--was a gift to me. you see, i'm not sure i could have borne, nor could continue to bear, that un-taken photograph if not for that bright spot of color.

1 comment:

Patricia Berman said...

I remember that so well. I was so glad Kate had that coat and so happy Cortney put it on her that day.