M. A. C.

The day we put him in his final resting place was bright, clear and hot. We gathered at the cemetery in the late morning, before the heat of the day, and still the air was damn near unbearable, wet and hot and heavy, like a dryer full of hot wet towels.

The day before was the first day that I had stopped at the scene of the accident. It was everything I was afraid it would be. Heartbreaking. Standing on the side of the road, reading the spray paint markers left for the investigators. Seeing the permanent marker my sister’s friends placed- a cross marked simply with his initials and the day he was so cruelly taken from us, wound with English ivy. Looking at the entire scene and wondering what might have been.

If only that woman had taken one more look, if only she had hesitated before pulling out in to the road at the top of a blind hill. There is no other conclusion to come to, not after looking at the intersection, looking at the spray paint marks- the line with PoI written underneath, and five feet from it, another line, marked F and a circle marked Helm., as if the shorthand somehow erased the obvious. “Look Twice, Save a Life”- it really is that simple. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t take some pleasure in the permanent marker being perfectly situated so that this woman sees it every single time she leaves her neighborhood. Even that is a light sentence, compared with my baby sister, who is reminded in every breath and step that she’s alone in this world. Look twice, save a life. But she didn’t. She didn’t.

And so that is why we were all standing in the marble walled courtyard of the cemetery, shielded from the road but also the breeze, and grateful for the small patches of shade afforded by the stunning Japanese maples planted in the center.

The ceremony is short. We all cry quietly. We file out one at a time, each of us stopping to lay a flower at the foot of the wall, to say goodbye before the urn is sealed in the vault and the nameplate is installed. My turn comes, and I can feel my chin quivering as I lay my rose on top of the pile. It is both comforting and disturbing to see that blue marble urn tucked so carefully into the vault space; knowing that his remains will be here forever, and disturbed to see his earthly body fit into such a small space. The irony of that. His spirit, his energy, his smile, his heart- these were all far too large to fit in there. Mark was like the smell of perfume in the air- he expanded and dissipated through out the entire room, his energy filling every available space.

I know that his spirit and energy do not have to fit inside that vault. Thank goodness.

We stopped outside of the courtyard to wipe our tears away, to take deep breaths and give and get hugs and to give my sister a few moments alone with her beloved. She came out of the courtyard, and that was it. We went back to the house, where she showed people to carefully sorted piles of his things.

And so it goes. The troubled but promising and stunningly vibrant life of a 25 year old man ended on April 12th, 2009. He was laid to rest on June 27th, 2009. Quietly and privately. Soundlessly, almost. In those single moments, a handful of lives were changed forever. He will be remembered fondly, and is already missed so very much. What I wouldn’t give for one more glimpse of that thousand watt smile directed at me. To see my sister’s face shine with happiness, love and pride.

Look twice. Save a life.

11 Responses

  1. I have no words that can truly do any justice to what you, your sister, and your entire family are going through. I am so very sorry.

  2. 😦 I will miss him dearly

  3. I once went to the bridal shower of a dear friend… her sister was there as her maid of honor, and had just lost her husband of a YEAR in a tragic car accident. She tried to get through it, but inevitably burst into tears… a few times… it was the most heartwrenching thing I have ever witnessed.

    I am so, so sorry for your sister adn your family’s loss.

    • Thanks. I can’t imagine trying to stand up for my sister a year after losing my husband. That would be heartwrenching.

  4. Well said. My thoughts and lots of good juju your way.

  5. May he rest in peace.

    And may your sister, and your entire family, remember him fondly and with lots of smiles and laughter. xoxo

  6. Nice post and few, nice comments!

  7. Oh darling. Sending my love to you and your sister and all who lost a precious love that day.

  8. HUGS!

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