I don’t even have the case for sure and already I’m wondering about using that auditorium I used for my car wreck family that had 500 guests, because this one will have far, far more. Should I put all the kids in one casket or one of the babies with Mom? How many hearses? Last baby service I did had a hearse…
I am the only one at work who never cries. Well, I should say, I never cry about work. It’s biology, it’s art, it’s several state statutes that I can annoyingly quote and follow to the letter. It’s a race against time; can I get all this to come together and look right by 3:00? Can I do better than I did on the last one?
But sometimes, though I won’t cry, I will silently rage and acknowledge that it got to me. I took the job knowing it would get to me, because I wanted to see what it felt like. When death punched me in the face, seventeen years ago, I let it keep punching. I told it to come back; hit me again. Let me see it again; show me what you keep doing to people. I won’t react. I wanted to know it in all its forms, know exactly what it was like, and to see it until it was commonplace, until it did not hurt me anymore. I learned to embrace that which humans instinctively fear, and what once was a peaceful co-existence wherein we saw and passed one another grew into a fusion. Give me an even worse one and I still won’t react. Let me spend the next several years working mainly with the worst of the worst, senseless killings and defenseless victims, kids who wanted out early or people cut down in the prime of their lives for no reason. I won’t cry.
But it’s still a child killed with a gun. Children small enough to share a casket. It will get to me.
Everything is getting to me. I am not okay. I am struggling with a child who is far too much like me at that age to ignore, but who is being ignored by most.
People are shooting their entire families for no reason.
I’m getting beaten by madwomen.
And it’s his birthday. He would be 37 years old.
I usually have his favorite food today (grilled cheese sandwich with mustard; apple juice) but I forgot. People are dropping dead all around me. Most of my food has been from a gas station. I try and add some almonds, apple slices or dried fruit to be, you know, all healthy. I used to weigh broccoli on a food scale. Now I eat out of little sacks. I have eight eggs left at home. Eight eggs and absolutely no other food. I forgot.
He never really worked much. He was 20 and only cared about hanging out with his friends. He worked a little in food service, dishwashing, construction. I think he owned one pair of jeans. I wonder if now he’d be maybe an accountant, in a suit or something. Actually he had been going to culinary school. I still can’t imagine him with different hair. It occurs to me I sort of have the same hair now; that Miley Cyrus thing, when I don’t have a weave.
I think people are surprised it wasn’t me. Surprised and disappointed. It would have made more sense for it to have been me; I was always in trouble and he was a good kid.
I got another body from a hospital an hour away today. The elevator stopped. I told the security guard if he died first, I was switching our clothes just to make people wonder. He told me people like me were the reason he’s no longer a cop.