I finally found a way to get back to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. My best friend and her son and I were traveling the road to those jagged mountains when the mist settled in. We got lost in the mist and took a wrong turn. We tried to find our way through the foggy night in time for me to be by my father's side when he took his last ragged breath.
We were ten miles away when my sister's husband called me to tell me that I was too late.
I closed my eyes. I wanted to cry, but I have so few tears left. I think perhaps I am numb. I think perhaps the mist has seeped into my skin, into my very soul and hardened my veins. I hung up the phone and made my way up to the ICU, where they were cleaning my father up and making us wait to see him one last time.
When they said we could go in. I slipped into the room quietly and stared at my father, lying there. I touched his forehead; he was no longer hot to the touch. His skin was cool and his eyes were closed. His mouth hung barely open, as it did when he was sleeping. No more tubes. No more machines. No more needles. He was pale white and nearly bald; but he was resting. At peace. Struggling no more.
I fumbled my way through trying to make arrangements because my sister's blood pressure went up so much she was taken to the emergency room after passing out in the bathroom of the funeral home. My Aunt Shirley was my rock and my savior; when I spaced out and couldn't answer questions about coffins and flowers she picked up the repoire with the funeral director and made the choices. She also wrote a handsome check toward the bill and covered the expenses of all the flowers. How in the hell my father's brother married such a saintly woman is beyond me.
The funeral was short. We didn't have a lot of money so we did the visitation and the funeral/burial all in one day. A lot of people I knew were there. A lot of people I used to know but do not know any more were there as well. A lot of people I didn't know were there. It's hard to put on this face of appreciation and acceptance when you feel so ... numb. I am sure people understood it; I hope people understood it.
It was a nice service, for what it was. My father was a simple man and I thought he would have considered all the flowers so frivoulous. My mother used to get angry at him for not picking her the wildflowers behind our home once in a while and he would turn and touch her face and say, 'Honey, if you pick 'em, they don't grow no more'. But he would have been so pleased to know that so many people were there; so many people cared.
Two of his brothers and his only living sister didn't come. We called to tell them and they said they just couldn't do it. I'll never know why but I know I must keep forgivness in my soul because I am not sure if I could bury my only remaining sister either. I buried my half sister and my father in the last year; I think perhaps if I were to lose her I might go crazy.
We buried him in our family cemetery in Combs, Kentucky. I had forgottent how far up the mountain it was.. past all the concrete and up a small gravel road to the very top of one of the highest mountains in Eastern Kentucky. My Grandmother and the Aunt I found murdered were buried there as well.. and it was so hard to watch my father go into the ground next to them.
I spoke a few words before my nephew said the prayer, I don't remember what I said other than thanking for everyone for coming.
There was no sign of the mist that day. It was satiated and the sun shone through a bright blue sky and fell warm on my skin. The mist had betrayed me. It didn't even stick around to see my father laid to rest. But as night fell, and the air fell cool and bitter, I could see the mist surrounding me again. On the hunt. It gets hungry again so quickly. I wonder who's next. I wonder who's next to go into the mist.
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