I dream every single night a old fashion reel of past current and future events my mind files away all night the things I think of are puzzles for me The pindering side never rests. I revisited a memory last night that still makes my stomach ache.
“Ring…. Ring” The office phone seems to never stop in a Funeral home there is always something to answer, flowers, food, clergy and on and on It becomes a vibration rather than a sound yet when that call comes in it always seems to ring differently. “Ring..ring” my pen stops on contract I was finalizing “Ring… Ring” i pick up the reciever as my ear presses to the phone I hear the crys. I reach for the pad and paper these calls we call first calls, the moment the funeral home is contacted either family, nurse, medical examiner the tears said a family member. Her voice was young as she gathered her words she said ” my sons dead.. My baby boy…. Long gasps inbetween. I begin to obtain the necessary information to initially start the Funeral or death process. I was the only funeral director back that afternoon everyone had gone on a large orthodox funeral that morning it was a lovely day and on those days at our cemetery we stay and chat a bit after graveside so I knew I’d be the Funeral Director to make these Funeral arrangements. I hate having anything to do with a child’s death it’s so unnatural it’s beyond unsettling. I set a time for her to come and sit down with me to discus the process, paperwork and burial/disposal options. I stood in the hallway listening to the old grandfather clock watching the family walk towards the front door through the pattern glass. I make my outfit adjustments I had no idea what Tge next week would involve. As the doors open a older African man of a refined look walks in he introduces his daughter she sounded young but nineteen was very young. I make them as comfortable as possible and we begin the arrangement. These arrangements though Tge ususl 2 hours seemed like forever and are staind in my mind as was that expensive chair.
The older man did the talking it was obvious the parents were not capable of speaking. He began to tell the details. The young mother had a 18 month old little boy I’ll call him John, a perfect little boy who was nothing but smiles the last time she saw his sweet face as she closed the door and left for work. She worked two jobs and paid the bills for her and John her father a preaching man held his daughter responsible for her teen pregnancy. She had just started dating a man a few months prior who was amazing with her John she felt comfortable enough to take that extra shift and leave her world in his hands.
I glance in boyfriends eyes as he falls to the floor Bowing his head to the wall praying in a different language he was devastated,, thump,, thump.. Thump he slightly hit his head off the wall while praying frantically thump… Thump.. Thump I listen to this for the whole time as I gatherred all detsils required at that time to proceed. John had drown in Tge bath tub while her boyfriend was baby sitting. The young mother was pregnant with their baby she held her tummy the whole time. As I walk them out the door the boyfriend continued to pray. I felt horrible for them. I returned to my office and began my job of coordinating johns pickup from the medical examiners office then his preparation for his viewing and funeral. I was to embalm young John as I was the embslming manager. I layed his perfect young body down and begin to open the autopsy sutures to begin the process of sanitation and restoration. Id never seen such a autopsy the coroner had peeled the skin back all over his body. The family had told me he drown? There would be no such procedur required a drowning is obviously determined by water in the lungs. As I mixed the chemical and ooened Tge medical just to be certain of no diseases. Homicide!
I look at his beautiful chocolate skin, his beautiful Afro those pouty lips why and how could anyone harm a child? As I embalmed his wee body I noticed that a bruise began to form on his cheek, then another small circles in a line. I spent hours suturing to reattach the flesh back properly. I get paged the family had returned with johns clothing. I ungown place a sheet over his body and go to meet them. The young mother sat across from me she hands me his white suit as I take it she hesitates to release. She gives me his jewelry and as I take it she screams, grabbing her tummy. She leans forward as her father comforts her the blood begins to run into the carpet under her chair hestaria followed. She lost her baby right there infront of me while discussing her dead sons clothing, so sad. I returned to Tge preparation area to finish. Little John had not drown those circles on his cheek are finger marks. Her boyfriend had beaten young John for crying and one of the head blows knocked him out the boyfriend proceeded to take his lifeless body into the bath to stage a drowning. John woke up in the tub as he drew the water and the boyfriend held him under by his face until he died. This gorgeous little boy I hkd in my arms as I walked to his casket. I lay him down tick him in and turn out the lights for the night.
To this day That sound of his frantic African prayers wake me from a dead sleep. I sat right there eye to eye with a murderer. Every time I had a funeral in that cemetery I visited Johns grave not sure why but I did.