You’re standing in ice cold and stiff and shiny dress shoes on well-groomed grass under a bright morning sun in an uncomfortable suit listening to a preacher you don’t know talk about someone you loved dearly. You are sweating and cold at the same time.
The quiet solemnity surrounding you is at sharp odds with the chaos in your head. It’s the opposite of a hurricane – the calm warm eye of the storm surrounds you, but behind your eyes rages a cat 5, hurling chunks of hail and ripping down signposts you thought would guide you and washing away beliefs you held dear. All you loved and the life you were building, the life you had already built, is nothing but a vast wasteland stretching out to the horizon, littered with jagged storm debris.
Behind you lay a rich life of achievements and children and grandchildren, now stripped of color and flavor and warmth, now just a crumbling fading mocking effort at meaning.
Ahead is a terrifying unavoidable no man’s land of grief and solitude and colorless icy despair.
You are surrounded by contrasts and contradictions, and the struggle to keep contained your screams and fears is resulting in clenched fists and curled toes inside those new shoes. Your feet are blocks of ice, and the ill-fitting suit ripples in the breeze, fluttering against your own cold hard skin.
Your thoughts are nothing but questions. Now what? How could this be? When will I wake up? When will SHE wake up? Where is she now?
Everything has been made hollow and hard and cold. You look around at the others, people dressed in black, and you catch some looking at you. You look back, questioning them wordlessly – did you know? Did YOU know? Did anyone know that she was the meaning of life? That she would take it with her when she died? That meaning poured forth from her like warm spring water? Was I a fool to not see it coming?
Then you realize no one is talking, and instead of some looking at you, they all are. You look back at each of them.
Your eyes circle back to the preacher and he gestures toward a shovel. Holy God, you think – they want me to bury her.
You don’t understand the why of anything. What’s the point? The bright sunlight and green grass and morning breeze once meant the promise of a beautiful day, but now you see those bright promises were dark and empty, like shiny sweet candy distracting you from the inevitable passage of time. Like cold space, all is void.
You walk forward and pick up a shovel. It has no weight. The dirt you pick up with the shovel has no weight. The sound made by the dirt landing atop the coffin is hollow, like a cheap imitation of what dirt piling up on a coffin should sound like.
Someone gently takes the shovel from your hand, and for a moment her hand touches yours and it’s warm, like the sun itself is touching you. You look up into the eyes of your wife, but see instead the face of your daughter. You feel a crack in the ice encasing your heart, and something warm emerges, slowly, carefully. Hope, brought forth, small, like an atom, but hot, like the sun, and even though the world is now pointless and frozen, a tiny part inside you begins to melt, and you begin to cry, staring into the face of your daughter and the eyes of your wife.