by: Judith Kroll
Of course they are empty shells, without hope of animation.
Of course they are artifacts.
Even if my sister and I should wear some,
or if we give others away,
they will always be your clothes without you,
as we will always be your daughters without you.
I stopped by the cemetery after work today to see my dad's cremation stone. It was a cold early afternoon. As I stood by his grave, a really big dog came over and nosed the palm of my hand. I petted her head, and then I heard a man's voice behind me.
"How's it going, Martin?"
I turned around. It was Neil, the sexton of the cemetery. The dog was his, and he was obviously taking her for a stroll around the grounds. Over the last couple years, Neil has dealt with my family a lot because of the deaths of my sister and father.
I greeted him, told him I was hanging in there.
He nodded at me. "It's never easy," he said, "losing a parent. It doesn't matter how old you are."
I nodded back in agreement.
He walked away with his dog, and I looked down at the nameplates on the cremation stone. There are three of them--one for my sister, one for my dad, and one for my mom. I reached down and fingered the birth and death dates beneath my father's name.
For a few brief moments, Saint Marty felt like a little kid, lost on a beach or in the supermarket.