It was only 8:00 am that morning, when all my Aunties and Uncles, and Cousins came through the door. One of them handed me a stale, old piece of candy, it tastes of rubber taffy. Gross, I should really stop taking it from Aunt Sissy she always had bad candy on hand for any situation. Strange though, everyone piling into the doorway. I asked Kurti why everyone was here. Momma was at the church, so why was everyone at our home?
“It’s Momma’s funeral, you dimwit of course they’re coming to our house.”
“Why’s we all wearing black?”
“‘Cause that’s what you do when someone passes.” Kurti grumbled. He was always talking to me in such a mean tone. Never ever once saying nice things.
Aunty Carol was grabbing everybody, shoving her dolled up face into Papa’s black blazer. Her eyes watery with black streaks down her wrinkly face. With everyone sobbing,no one could hear me.
“When’s breakfast?” I asked Papa, but he didn’t say nothing.
“Excuse me,” I pulled on Miss May’s paneled skirt ”what are we having for breakfast?” Still nobody said a thing to me. While I was still dressed in my pretty floral nightgown I got last year.
“Hey stupid, we don’t have time for breakfast.”Still wearing his Ben Ten PJs. Kurti snarked behind me “Papa says we better get ready.”
The local church was only a few minutes away, it had a big cross right in the front. There was also this big bell that never moved. It was weird being here on a Tuesday. Momma always said Sundays are for church. And only ever church, she got so mad at the banks and stores that were open. She used to rant about it, all the way there. Above the French front doors was a stain glass of angels. Momma always called it ‘spectalary breathtaking’ when she would enter. Always taking pauses there before grabbing my hand into the sanctuary. It never knew what those words meant. Still if Momma loved it, then I love it too. I stood there in my black poofy dress, velvet sash lay across me. Twirling around with my little purse, fixing my bow.
“Maribel, move aside before you get trampled,” Papa hollered at me, reaching out to my tiny hand. There was a soft chuckle from behind me.
“She’s quite a day dreamer, lost in her own little world.” The pastor’s shaky voice rang in my ears. He smelled of old peppermints and pipe tobacco. I never liked the smell of smoke, it made my nose twitch.
Pastor Beau was weird, he’s always looked like a smiling old cat. He had a big bushy mustache, His face tight with his always present grin. He spoke in soft tones and had a calming about him. Big wrinkly hand patted my head, messing up the perfect blonde bun in place. He bent his knees down. His dusty browns looking into my bright blues directly.
“My dear you look just like your mother.” I stood up with my head high after that comment. Smiling proudly at the old man. I looked up to see Papa wasn’t smiling. Didn't he think Momma was beautiful, if I look just like her, then I should be the prettiest girl in the whole world.
The church bells chimed as the door closed. It was a windy afternoon that day. Everyone I had ever known was there. There was also a lot of people I didn’t know. All my relatives came over to my Papa, hugging and crying over him. My aunties all wiping off their painted faces.
“Oh, I’m so sorry Mike”
“She was a great women”
“We lost a saint”
Over and over the same sayings. Papa didn't say more than a thank you to all of them. Still sticking to the side of my papa we walked over to the snack tables. They were serving little wraps. Papa was grabbing punch when a lady came over. I knew this lady, she was Miss Claira.
She wore a small pencil skirt and a flowy black blouse, her long blonde hair was worn straight to the bottom of her back. We only met Miss Claira once, and she wasn’t very nice. Her bright red lips began to move, she had lettuce wedged between her teeth. Not pretty at all.
“Hello Mike, so sorry for your loss,” she said, her sweet words in a not so sweet tone, “You know this wouldn’t of happened if you had just left her at the rehab center.”
I wasn’t sure what the rehab center was, but Momma was away for a couple months before coming home, I had watched Papa drop her off at this huge building. It had nice nurses and a pretty garden with roses; Momma loved roses. Then I heard Papa’s harsh words, like a snarl.
“Now is not the time to talk about this, especially in front of Maribel.” Miss Claira tapped her long witchy nails on the table.
“You’ll have to face it eventually Michael, you can’t avoid everything.” Papa’s eyes looked like fierce fire. His eyebrows furrowed down and his lips did that weird curve when he was about to yell . Papa’s never been this mad before with me and Kurti, his face was dark and scary. I starting clutching the hem of my dress, backing up behind him underneath the table.
There was fear, when I hid under the table, a little wet tear filled my eye. The feeling of my face flush and heat up. Trying to be quiet, but I couldn't’ stop hiccuping. My throat was tightening up like a rope, choking out another sob. Then there was a pair of feet walk towards me, I tried to wipe away all of my tears that stained my face. The saltiness stung my lips and tongue. The bitter taste made me scrunch up my face.
“I can hear you sobbing from across the room, so don't even try to hide” I heard Kurti’ s voice then I saw him lift up the table cloth and crawl underneath.
“Why are you even hiding dummy?” He asked as he blotted my tears away with a tissue.
I looked up at him with a big pout. My tiny lips quivering and shaking, I really didn’t like this at all. “too scary” Kurti just frowned at me, he looks like Papa with that look.
“This was why you don’t get to do grown up things, crybaby.” and took me by the hand. Lifting me up with my dress falling over. Maybe I didn’t have such a bad brother after all, he cares.
He waddled over to Momma's open casket. She looked pretty as always. Her hair was in loose waves. Dressed in her favorite sunday outfit, it was a beautiful bright red. Momma always called it vibrant. She wore her classic pearls, but something wasn’t right. Momma wasn’t smiling here, she always was smiling. Momma looked her prettiest when she was happy. I turned to see Papa looking at me, but he wouldn’t look at Momma. Looking over at Kurti with tears in his eyes too, now he’s the crybaby. Patting his check, I held his hand. That’s where we found the pastor.
Pastor Beau was sitting alone at the table, reading some papers. He looked up smiling .
“What’re you kiddies doing off on your own?” His belly shook while he laughed a little.
“Just going to say goodbye to Momma” Kurti told the old man. I hated the word goodbye, it made it seem like forever. Why do I have to say goodbye forever?
“And where’s your father, dear boy?” I decided to answer this one
Raising my hand over Kurtis’ shoulder, hollering and squealing at the elderly white haired man. He stared at me with those curious eyes, locked into mine. I was gonna be included in the conversation this time.
“He was in line too, but he wouldn't look at Momma.”
“He weren't talking to you Maribel.” Ignoring him while I stuck out my tongue, making faces at him. He always won at the ugly face contest, the only time i’m glad I lose to him.
“Kurtis my boy, why don’t you leave your sister with me while you talk with your cousins,” he instructed.
“Alright, but if she starts crying bring her back to me.”
We watched Kurti go find cousin Molly and Mitchy, twins of Aunty Lu around Kurtis’ age. Those two never wanted to play with me since i'm the baby. Anytime they did it was to play keep away, with my favorite Sally Sue doll. I really wish everyone would stop treating me like i’m an actual baby. I’m gonna turn 6 years old before the end of the year.
“Maribel why do you think your father doesn’t want to talk today”
“Cause he’s sad, but he still loves Momma, right?”
“Yes, he’s sad” he started slowly “but he’s got to be strong for you and your brother.”
“Papa’s always been strong, he never cries like me.”
“Sweetheart he want to cry, trust me, but he feels guilty about your mother’s death.”
I could only stare back at him in wonder, I never thought anyone could pressure Papa. He was always stubborn when it came to bedtimes, and eating vegetables. Papa, the best man in the whole wide world was guilty, I couldn’t believe it. Papa never needed anybody, he was my knight in shining armor, a hero that are only in story books that Miss Daisy reads at school . I loved those stories read at school, Momma was the only one that would read to me.
“Why, Momma will be back one day, you say yourself death is just a new beginning to heaven.”
“Papa still loves Momma though, he still loves me and Kurti?” My face was getting hot again. Fat tears filled my eyes, I choked out another sob.
“No he still loves you, he’s just having a hard time” Pastor reassured.
“So he won’t leave us alone, and runaway to find a new little girl.”
“Papa won’t want me anymore, if I make him sad all the time. I didn’t want another little girl to replace me. I wanna stay with my Papa .”
“Of course not, where did you get that idea like that?” I just looked over and shrugged, I didn't really know where I got that idea from.
“Can’t I help him,so he’s not sad?” I sniffled away
I never wanted Papa to be mad or sad, about it, I never like seeing him mad, mad means no playing outside with Kurti during the summer, or can’t have a lolli from Grandma. When Papa was ever sad, which wasn’t often, he wouldn't talk to me or Kurti, even Momma couldn’t get him out of his room. He wouldn’t even come out and make me and Kurti some mac and cheese. We tried to cheer him up, but nothing worked.
“I’ll write poem, Momma loved poems. I’ll read it, so Papa will be happy again”
“That’s a wonderful idea, my dear.”
I sat in the front row of the seats with Papa and Kurti in each side of me. Momma’s favorite choir song played softly in the background. Pastor beau stood up by the pew, his booked bigger then me laid infront if him. Waiting for everyone to be seated. It was muggy in the small room. The whole church was silence waiting for him to start. I felt the hot breath of the old women behind me, leaning over her wooden chair.
“We are here today to honor and remember a wonderful women, we all dearly loved and now miss greatly. I had the pleasure of knowing such a women, and knowing her family for many years. She was mother of two, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend . We mourn todays loss as God had taken her from this world.I know it is very hard for the family as we all mourn, sending my prayers to them and ask God to help us heal this wound. I would like to ask now of the family if they have any words for her”. He stared directly at me.
Clutching my scribbled down scrap paper with pink pencil and drawn roses. Taking a breath I stand up, knees about to buckle.There was the gasps of the people behind me. Though Papa didn't seem to be all that happy He looked mad again, oh no! Too late now since I stood up and everything. I guess i’ll just deal with him later. Kurti was almost laughing at Papa’s face when he saw me stand up. Choking down a couple poorly hid giggles.
“Maribel you better sit down, you don’t have anything to say.“ Turning to his side. My hands were white.
“Yes I do Papa!” Huffing out, a pit present on my lips. “I wrote her a poem, Momma loves those.”
I bounced over to pastor standing tall. Smiling down at my confidence. He leans over to fix the mic, while bringing over a stool. Tip toeing to see over the thingy, with one deep breath.
“H-h-hie, i-i’m Mar-ii-bel, i’ll read a poem.”
‘Living in a world of beauty and grace’
‘Filled with flowers for her face’
‘She was a rose that lost her petals’
‘Stuck by a too vicious metal’
‘She’s gone and free to fly ‘
‘The pain is left for us to cry’
‘Her angel wings were ripped away’
‘God said she couldn't stay’
‘Still the world turns ‘
‘With love that burns’
‘A fallen rose still hides a thorn”
I looked up from the crinkled old paper in my hands. There in front of me, papa had tears welling in red eyes. Streams fallen down his face. Then I hear more sobs, everyone was crying out. The room was suffocating and dry, I felt like I couldn't’ breathe out my thank you. Folding the paper over, nodding back to the pastor. I could see fat tears, through crinkled eyes and bushy eyelashes. Why was everyone crying? I didn’t want this. I was trying to make everyone more happy. Now I’ve made it worse, Papa’s never gonna want me now.
Papa stood up and made his way over to the casket, placing a single rose on Momma’s chest. Reaching down to squeeze her hand, sliding off the golden band on his fat sausage finger. He turned to stare at me whispering a ‘thank you’ before kissing her head.
Why was he thanking me? Did I just made him cry all over again. Papa is so confusing.
His face was pale and sweating, eyes blood red and I could see they were 3x as big. His forehead had veins popping out. He didn’t look all that nice now. Is this how Papa looks crying.
“Goodbye, my sweet Rosaline.”