go see your mother,” her younger
brother persuaded from what little separation a phone call could provide
. “You haven’t seen her
since the funeral,
and it’s only appropriate you pay your respects.”
She breathed a heavy sigh into her cell phone and looked at the screen, as if
her brother’s face would be present there with its signature disapproving glare.
It was a look that accompanied about half of her decisions.
“It isn’t easy to find the time and…”
n’t really a good excuse.
“Of all the days in the year, you owe her the courtesy
, the respect, of going
today,” he went on.
“This isn’t home. People don’t really do those things here.”
“It doesn’t matter. Her grave is here, and she would want us to. I’m planning to go on my lunch break at noon. Want to join me?” he offered. But, she kn
ew that offer was double-sided, double-edged. It hinted at her problem. It highlighted her unusual phobia.
no. I’ll go on my own. I’ll need to get a few things together for remembrances,” she said.
“But, you’ll go? You promise?” her brother continued to press.
“Yes,” she assured, “I’ll go.”
“The cemetery closes at sunset, and the mausoleum doors lock at five.”
“I know,” she said wearily. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” And with that, she ended
the tedious exchange.
It was all well and good for her brother, this honoring. He’d been closer to
their mother in life and had missed her more
keenly after she’d passed a few months ago. It would’ve been all well and good back home,
too, before they had moved to a new place in a new country. Celebrating Dia de los Muertos was so very common
and the cemeteries would’ve been fu
ll of the living and well lit up after dark. But, in the city of steel and concrete that was her home now, and in the countryside cemetery where their mother had been buried, it was all too remote, alien, and
frightening. She didn’t like graveyards, and
tombs were a terror beyond naming. The thought of being alone with the dead was unsettling, to say the very least. But, she knew her brother was right in this. She had to go. She had to go
today. Her mother would’ve expected it of her, and she was certain
if she didn’t
she’d feel that parental chiding from beyond the veil.
The rest of the afternoon was spent gathering up trinkets, mementos that her brother had forced on her after their mother had died. They were a mixture of heirlooms and gaudy objects from the apartment their mother had occupied in her later years and last days. They were things that were not her style, and none of the items held particularly fond memories. They belonged with their mother now and would provide the makings of a perfect shrine. Live plants and real floral arrangements were not accepted within the mausoleum walls, and she felt that the custodial staff or groundskeeper certainly
wouldn’t care for a dish of food
being left either.
d probably issue a hefty fine for food left in the building
, and they’d know
just where to send the bill.