Part 5: Acceptance
I awoke to the sun, peeking it’s head through the clouds after the storm. I still felt alone, sad and exhausted from the week, but a feeling of peace had settled into my heart. I didn’t like it, to be honest. It bothered me, feeling smug and contented, without my consent. I walked back to the house through the muddy grass, hair still dripping from the night before.
Omega was in the kitchen, whistling a jaunty tune while he cooked in the kitchen. A large pot of boiling water signalled he was making more hard boiled eggs for himself. I sat down at the table and leaned back exhaustedly, my head resting against the chair’s headrest.
“So, is Heaven just Death’s Duffle bag?” I asked in a introspective way as I watched him cook.
“Haha, yeah in a way I guess it is. I mean, not forever but for a while at least. Also, sorry about yesterday Jon, I just really don’t like it when people touch my stuff. The begging part, I totally get. Happens all the time when people see me. Egg?” He picked up another egg from the carton and held it over the pot indicating he’d cook it if I wanted.
“Nah, I’m ok.” I waved my hand dismissively and he put the egg back with a shrug. “Do you only eat hard boiled eggs? Your gas must be terrible.”
“Yeah, smells like Death.” He let out a little snicker as he turned back to his pot of eggs boiling. “Heh, Death. I kill myself sometimes… oh man, another one.”
“You’re in a cheery mood today.” I commented as I started going through the mail that had piled up on the table, separating bills from other mail, tossing the junk into one pile. “Something special happening today?”
“You’re really just out of touch lately aren’t you? Today’s the funeral.” Without turning to see my reaction, he continued, “the service is at the Polinski Graveyard. Starts at 3:00pm today. I’ll be leaving after that, you’ll be on your own”
“Seriously? You’ll be gone, just like that?” It surprised me, but I felt a twinge of sadness at the thought of him leaving me.
“Yeah, on to the next person, help them cope a little bit. Honestly though, I won’t forget this week. No one’s actually stolen a soul from me, much less that of a serial killer.” He gathered up his eggs and started walking to his room. “You should get ready, get your suit on.”
My suit was a little tight once I had pulled it out of the closet and put it on. The buttons for the suit jacket were snug, and the pants were only able to be done up with me sucking in my girth. I doubted that my week of incessant drinking and eating food in an intoxicated state helped my weight any. My eyes had bags upon bags and looked exhausted as I examined myself in the mirror. A week without any self care had really impacted my face physically. Nicks and cuts, along with an unkempt beard had given me a near homeless look.
After shaving my beard and styling my hair, I looked almost human again. My eyes still looked half vacant and haunted, but there was nothing I could do about that. I quickly ate a piece of bread with honey on it before heading out the door. Omega met me outside, his bag and scythe beside him once more. We drove in silence for the duration of the car ride, me lost in reverie thinking about her, and him, surprisingly respectful enough to let me have my moment in thought.
The parking was backed up for blocks, assorted vehicles parked from either a previous funeral or for hers. Omega and I walked six blocks together, still in silence. A large crowd had gathered around her plot, and I was immediately submerged back into reality. Her mother came up, tears in her eyes, barely visible through the black veil she wore.
“How are you Jon?” Her tone was warm and caring, hiding the sorrow her body was obviously stating. “Thank you for picking out the casket, it’s beautiful.”
“I’m…” I started off, pausing when I realized I didn’t know at all how I felt. “I don’t know, it’s been a terrible week. I can’t even imagine asking you the same.” I reached out and gave her as big a hug as I could manage. She broke a little in my arms, a single sob escaping from her before she regained her composure. Wordlessly, she broke away from me, nodded her thank you and moved to the rest of the crowd, talking to anyone she came to, a sad smile upon her lips.
My wife lay in the casket, the first time I remember seeing her since hearing the news. She lay perfectly still within the box, wearing an eyeliner colour I knew she would hate. The dress she wore however, looked amazing on her. I reached down and gently kissed her forehead, but her skin was so cold, I almost recoiled. I felt a pit of unease and sorrow begin to grow in my stomach. She looked wrong, as she had been so full of life and energy when she was alive. Seeing her like this, unmoving, was causing me nausea.
I stepped away, blinking tears from my eyes as I looked for a seat. One had been saved for me up front, near her family as well as mine. My mother and father turned to talk to me, give me their pity and sadness to try and make me feel better, however the pastor began his sermon.
I want to say that I remember his sermon, how crystal clear his message was. That it gave me hope, lifted me above my troubles and brought the world into a new light. But he merely spoke some caring words, lamented that she had been taken too soon, and read some words from his large book. It probably produced peace in some people, helped others move forward, but it was simply words to me.
They wanted me to give the eulogy but I refused. That’s something I regret to this day, not being brave enough to stand up and tell them how amazing she truly was. How she filled my heart with warmth, and tempered me when I was too sharp with others. She completed me, and I couldn’t choke out a single word for her. The pit of unease and sorrow just caused me to spiral to a point of silence for the rest of the funeral. People extended their hands and condolences to me, and I nodded with a small word of thanks, but I refused to engage in real conversations with people. I wanted the event to be done. I hated seeing her in this state.
Finally the last of the people left the soggy plot she now called home. I sat alone, my dress pants getting soaked from the still damp earth. The sun began to set, casting long cold shadows across the headstones. Wind danced through the plots, whipping leaves in an intricate dance across my vision. Omega, drawing close for the first time since we arrived, placed his hand on my shoulder gently.
“It’s time for me to go.” He hoisted his bag onto his shoulder and nodded his head farewell. “I’ve got to move onto the next moron, help them through their time of mourning.”
“I haven’t even hit acceptance yet though,” I insisted, reaching out and grabbing his sleeve. “Aren’t you supposed to get me through all the stages of grief?” Stopping, Omega turned back to me with a little chuckle.
“That’s the easy part, and honestly, it probably won’t happen for months. You’ll go through these stages so many times before then, in order, out of order. Fuck, you’ll know them inside out.” He put down his duffel bag and started rifling through his pockets. “You don’t need me around now that you’ve made it through the initial wave. Go back to your friends, don’t lock yourself away, all that basic helpful crap. Ah here it is!” Pulling a small, folded piece of paper from his pocket, he handed it to me gingerly. “She asked me to let her write this before she passed on. Said to give it to you once she had been buried.”
Wordlessly I took the paper, holding it with reverence. I nodded a thank you to Omega as he turned and hoisted the bag upon his shoulder. I watched him walking away as I clung to the paper, as if it could keep me from blowing away. Turning back to the grave, I held up the note and examined it. I felt a stillness settle over me, and a small smile stretched across my lips.
“Still giving me the best surprises hey?” I hesitated in opening it. This would be the last thing I ever received from her. I was scared to the point where I didn’t want to read it. Not because I wasn’t longing for whatever was written, but because I still didn’t want it to be over. I wanted to have something more to look forward to with her. My greed got the better of me and I rapidly opened the letter.
I stood in silence reading the letter. My trembling stopped, but the tears started to fall upon the paper I held. Not wanting to ruin the letter, I held it away from my face. When I had finished reading it, I folded it back up the way I got it, putting it carefully in my pocket. Looking back at her plot, I smiled sadly.
“I’ll be back tomorrow.” I whispered through the wind. “I love you Susan.” I turned, feeling the full weight of the week upon my shoulders, knowing that she was giving me the strength to take each step forward. Her letter, nestled in my chest pocket, kept me warm against the growing autumn chill. It was mine and mine alone, no one would ever know the contents of what she wrote but me. I wasn’t at acceptance yet, but with a few hard boiled eggs and some scotch, I think I would be ready for the next stage.