Chapter 5: Shadows

Foot on the last step on the staircase, I knew I had to turn now and walk to the arrival gate where my aunt would be walking out shortly. My feet became heavier, as if I was dragging them in sand and I could feel my heart trying to fight off a pain emerging from within it. I could see the arrivals coming out of the gate and in no time there she was, pushing her suitcases on the trolley and I could see it on her face; I could see the agony, the defeat, the hurt, the disbelief. It was so overwhelming that I turned my body from her and almost broke into tears but remembered that she could not see me crying because that would tear her apart. I turned again and started walking towards her and now my mother had rushed to embrace her and help her to a bench. Like pushing against a gusting wind I found it so hard to get close to her. I ended up hiding behind a pillar from where she could see me and I could see her, it was the best I could do and being in the shadows felt better because the glare of reality was much overwhelming.

In time I saw her looking around and I knew she was looking for me. I met her gaze finally and my heart experienced a torrent of pain, in her eyes I could see it all yet in words I cannot put it……….No parent deserves the right to bury their child. None at all, and what I felt was a fate I would not wish even upon my worst enemy. Behind me was the departure lounge where just a few years before I had said goodbye to Oscar, and now he had come back not more than a memory. We spent an hour at the airport, waiting for Oscar to be cleared through customs and be ready for pickup at the cargo hangar. Finally the paperwork was done and we could go and pick him up. My mother and aunt went with the hearse while the rest of us went to our vehicles and followed. We went around the airport, through many security check points and finally reached the cargo hangar. The hearse reversed and parked right at the hangar door and I parked a distance away, so I could watch from the darkness. My mother and aunt went into the hangar and submitted the papers for the cargo to be released to the undertaker and while that was happening I became more aware of all the people who were around me. We now had been joined by Angela and Obrey, Oscar’s brother and sister. I had not seen the two in some years now and Angela came to greet me but it didn’t go past a necessary handshake.  Many words played in my head of the night when Oscar passed away for when the news reached us it also reached Angela and Obrey and Obrey accused us all of murdering Oscar. Words still echoing in my head, he called my mother, my sister Sandra, my aunt and spoke words no man should ever speak to another in a time of grieving. The darkness allowed me great calm for I did not want to be overrun with emotion. As I sifted through the words my attention was grabbed by the hangar doors opening. Soon enough a forklift came out and on its forks was a box, a box. After twenty four  years of life together, all that was left was a box. The undertaker opened the back door of the hearse and the forklift stopped a few steps from the car. The undertaker and airport staff then lifted the box off the forks and into the hearse. Obrey stood next to the hearse all this time and saluted the coffin as it went into the hearse, and I wondered from the darkness why?

My mother and aunt went into the hearse with the undertaker and the hearse started pulling out of the hangar area. I went into my car and followed as we were now taking him to the funeral parlor where he would spend the night. We arrived at the funeral parlor and as the hearse reversed towards a group of men waiting to receive Oscar, I parked my car and walked slowly towards the reversing hearse. As I saw my aunt and mother standing close to the hearse I tried to walk away but my aunt turned and walked after me. She grabbed my hand and hugged me and tears rushed to my eyes and I could not fight them. I cried and she cried too and for a moment I wanted all of this to be a dream because it was hurting too much. My mother approached us and touched my aunt on the shoulder as she was needed by the undertaker as they had to open the box to get the autopsy report, passport, birth certificate and national ID that had been put in the box with my brother. The papers were taken and the undertaker started making arrangements for burial two days later, Sunday morning.  Just after midnight was the time and I had no feeling of sleep. Time to leave came and parting words were said as the people who had accompanied us through this part of the journey were now returning to their homes. We drove on our way home, and I was dead silent with my parents and aunt following in the car behind me. Soon enough we arrived home and I parked and went to receive my aunt into the house. I took her bags as she was being greeted by some more people who had been waiting for her at my residence. My aunt entered the house and I showed her the room prepared for her. I left her for a bit and she returned after she had taken a bath and had had a change of clothes. I never imagined I would have to take such a role, to cover and hold a person who had been just as good as my mother to the point where I saw no difference between her and my own mother. Life felt so unfair in the moment as I went through my thoughts. I could feel all the memories of Oscar and I, the times we spent in the house we were in at the moment, the little steps of us racing in the passage when we were kids, to the noise we made with the radio as adults.  My aunt left her room to go to the lounge and she asked for my help to send messages to her friends in Auckland who would want to know she arrived safely. I took my tablet and sent the message for her, trying not to burden her with technology which I knew she was not entirely fond of. A fire had been started outside, no one wanted to sleep really; who could even if they tried?

All of the people in the house, not more than ten went to sit around the fire and we tried to talk about other things, even throwing jokes but the thought never departed. Just after two o’clock in the morning there was a power outage and everyone decided to try and get some sleep. We all retired into the house and I felt more at home in the darkness, where no shadows would pose reminders. I caught a bit of sleep, not more than two hours but sleep was not all that my mind pondered. Dawn came about and soon enough I could see the sun starting to come through my window. The funny thing about time is that it has no consideration for what you are going through, it keeps pacing through its steps even when you would want it to not reach a certain point in its progression for the sake of avoiding a reality you would rather live without facing. My alarm on my phone went off at seven o’clock and to no surprise there was already life outside, friends and relatives going up and about preparing for funeral attendees who would start arriving soon. I got out of bed and quickly made my bed, then quickly stepping out of my room to go a take a shower. I didn’t want to spend too much time in the shower because I would start thinking. I got out of the shower after a few minutes and got dressed, and instinctively I reached to grab my wallet but I could not find it where I usually put it. I looked around for it but I could not find it. I got my car keys and went to check my car and it was not there either. A chill came over me; I had lost my wallet with my driver’s license, national ID and bank card. Though the bank card was a simple call to get it canceled the other two pieces were difficult. Insult to injury perhaps but I decided to go back to all the places I had been the previous night to see if I could find the wallet; from the air port arrival gate to the cargo hangars and then all the way to the funeral home but clearly I had lost my wallet. I felt a sense of defeat, you know how when faced with so much there is that one thing that just sends you over the edge. As I sat in my car outside the funeral home, my last stop in my search for my wallet I put my face on my steering wheel and almost cried a river. Words can never express the feeling of wanting this to not be your share, for it to pass, for everything to just be a figment of your imagination.

I pushed my keys into the ignition and started the car, putting the gear into reverse and pulling out of the parking lot. I was going home now, my thoughts focusing more and more on the fact that I would be back here in a few hours. I got home and found that some guests had already arrived.  I went around greeting some of them and trying to find out what had been done and what I could help out with. To my surprise I was not needed at all, everything was taken care of and that left me a prisoner of my thoughts since there was nothing else better to do than think of all that was happening. That day was a bit different in that I felt alone, no comfort of friends and for some reason I preferred it that way. Late morning turned to afternoon and some expected but not really welcome in my book guests arrived. They were the relatives of my late brothers’ dad. His dad passed away not too long before but he had not been a part of my brothers’ life since he was a kid.

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