By Saul Seibert.
24 Hours After Someone Dies:
Someone will ask you if you would like paper or plastic and the phone will ring because someone doesn’t know that someone has died or maybe they do and you think you know what they’ll say so you silence the call through your blue jeans and feel for your lighter…..it’s always in the last place you check.
The hymns that were sung moments ago are filled in with made up words that you can’t quite make fit.
One of your relatives says something stupid like, “It’s just a shame.”
I’ve said some dumb things before so I nod my head and look for an easy exit out of the small talk.
Everyone asks how you’re doing and so you lie.
There’s a lot of lying going on when someone dies but I don’t blame anyone. I lie a lot on good days so I feel a bit more justified when I lie on the bad ones. So there you are, a bunch of liars in a room where truth screams out at you from a lifeless body.
You have to be brave to touch a dead person, (because that’s what they are)……to kiss them and know they can’t feel it or smell your skin and then all of the sudden “love”, true unadulterated, pure, violent love is felt…..hard, like a slap against the face, knuckles and all. Your eyes dart around the room studying the surroundings, wondering if it’s time for you to take the stage with napkins in your pockets and that tight feeling in your chest. The lucky ones are too broken to care where the spotlight lands. But you’re not one of them, so you sing along to a song you don’t really know the words to……kind of like the hymn. It’s an irony, a bad joke in my mind.
What I mean to say is that the last memory you have of a person is when they are incapable of interacting with you. It’s one of the few things in life you experience alone.
So there I am, standing in line at Starbucks, loaded with lies and a six month old hangover.
The woman making my drink appears to be brand new at this and is taking way to long to simply make me a damn latte. I hate impatient people which puts me at odds with myself most of the time. She spills my drink and gives a nervous laugh and casts an anxious glance at me. “I’m so sorry,” she says.
“It’ll just be a minute. I’m so sorry.” A million and one smart ass remarks came to my mind but my grandmother had just died, so I said, “It’s no bother, I’m in no hurry.” But I kind of was.
There’s nothing anyone can really do that wouldn’t end in shit ton of guilt and regret. That’s why so many people drink.
There’s no guilt in involving other people, that is, unless you’re the abusive type. Sometimes I got a little nasty myself, but I’m not drinking now, and I remind myself to be nice to the coffee girl.
24 hours after someone dies everything is basically the same to almost everyone but you. But it’s basically almost the same with you, too.
But you hope it’s not. You have to do that alone as well. All that soul searching bullshit you see in the inspiration section at a Barnes and Noble. You gotta do that alone, as well, because the old woman standing in the aisle next to you is doing it alone and this stuff happens every hour of every day.
But I’m trying to believe in God or something. So all of this could be in question. And I guess I’m ok with that. I won’t read any of these sorts of books, I’m probably too proud.
The coffee is good, even though it’s not really all that good. I think that 24 hours after someone dies is the easy part in a way. You get to be broken, doing what is right in the days that follow, learning from a person you’ll never speak to again is the beautiful absurdity of it all.
I do hope I am becoming a good student.
Saul Seibert lives in Galesburg, Illinois with his wife and two children. After pastoring for nearly a decade, he now enjoys freelance writing, horror films, photography, and rocking out with his band, The Raw Boys.