Thursday, June 14, 2007


THE VALLEY

It is hot for this early in June. Normally the Willamette Valley doesn’t get its heat until the fifth of July, it’s almost a joke, but heat has come today, June 10th, 1996. With the heat has come its friend, humidity, adding weight to this impossibly heavy day.

Heavy within my own body, eight months pregnant, comes the oppressive pounds of now being the one to unravel the complicated tangle that is my dad’s estate. As I stand on the rolling lawn of the cemetery, one eye on the Catholic priest that we’ve asked to do the service, one eye on my toddler that wants out of Daddy’s arms and into mine, I feel as though I am the one being buried. Heavy. There is no other word to describe this day.

My young daughter’s hair blond and blowing, she struggles in my arms. There is no place for her to rest comfortably with her unborn brother already taking me farther and farther away from her.

“It’s OK, Honey, I’ve got you, “ I try to sooth.

Do I really have you? I have just become the head of my birth family. I am about to give birth again. You, my first born, is there enough of me to go around? Do I really ‘have’ you?

The breeze gives comfort to the small group gathered. After 74 years you would think a person could draw a crowd, but not this man. Of the few that are gathered here, even fewer can say they really knew him. Most of the people here are showing their support for me, for my brother, Michael, and for my mom, the wronged party.

Looking briefly from the eyes of the priest to those of the group, steady figures in my life look back. My godparents/aunt and uncle have made the long drive. My second mother, my mom’s sister is there. My closest cousin dropped everything and came down from Seattle, over five hours away. These are the same people that continued to ask about my dad long after he disappeared from their lives, my mom’s side of the family. Perhaps they, like me, believed my dad had enough humanity that he was worth respecting upon his death. Perhaps they were willing to forgive and forget all the stories of drunkenness, hostility, manipulation and abandonment they’d heard so many times. Perhaps they were just there out of duty and obligation, a guilty “must do”.

It seems wrong to wear casual sandals to your own father’s funeral. It seems wrong to be swollen and pregnant, burying a man named Wilson, carrying his grandson, Wilson. It seems wrong to see all these people that I know would rather be anywhere but here on this hot, miserable, heavy, heavy day.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow, amazing writing!

Terry Whitaker said...

amazing and sad. So hot, so heavy, so sad.

Suzy said...

Lovely writing, as always.

Kim said...

Absolutely beautiful writing, and so powerful. I can feel the weight you're carrying in my own body as I read.

As a writer I know would say, take an A!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Beautiful writing Carrie.

Love.

Eileen said...

Your writing is so powerful, so beautiful and yet so sad. It really moved me, I too felt the heat and the weight you were carrying while I was reading this. It was amazing!! XOXO

Deb said...

Absolutely amazing and powerful and so very sad. Love.

Nancy said...

Wow Carrie!

jennifer said...

Gonna be a broken record here but now do a re-write with a bit more "on the body"...so, being specific, show how you are holding your toddler, swaggered on your hip, how her weight tugs at your dress, against your big belly, about how pain is shooting up your legs and her tendrils of hair are whispering around your nose in the HOT, COLD, breeze, where are trees, where is the main entrance, what are the names on the other tombstones, see everything, REPORT..the arrivals and the names...and the details: the faces, the air, the call of birds, the angle of the sun...blah blah...yada yada...

Jerri said...

So very glad to see a memoir piece from you, Carrie. And a powerful one it is, too.

You give us the weight of this day and manage to foreshadow the weight of the responsibilities about to come to you, too.

Fascinating.

Julie said...

You described that day beautifully. There is only one error - there is no other place I would have wanted to be than with you on that day.

Jenny Rough said...

Bless you, Carrie.

Anonymous said...

this is a fine piece of writing. Have you considered submitting it to the NY Times "modern love" column? There have been several other posts in the past year that I think would be a good fit as well...

kario said...

Wow, Carrie - this is great. Some day it will mean a lot to your kids to see themselves in this piece, I think.

Love you!