48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Essay #22: packing

In Love on August 1, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Last time I packed for a funeral, I was in high school. I don’t remember what I packed, or what I wore. But I do remember telling Mr. Perry, the marine biology teacher, that I was going to Arizona because my grandmother had died.

Mimi, my mother’s mother, always sent the perfect clothes for my awkward body. She made Christmas ornaments by hand, with photos of us, or our names in glitter.

I don’t remember how we got there, but I do remember the open casket…

… and thinking, who the hell is THAT? wearing Mimi’s dress?

She had on way too much make-up, and her wig looked funny. My mom reached in and rubbed off some of the blush, and smoothed her hair.

I don’t remember crying, either. Confusion seemed to be the emotion of the day. Mimi was gone. Not hiding or smiling or pointing out closer parking spaces to my grandfather. She simply wasn’t there.

It was unsettling.

The next thing I remember is Thanksgiving, months after the funeral. My grandfather was still living near the golf course, but now he was dating Myrt.

Show a picture of my grandmother to Central Casting, ask for the complete opposite, and they’ll send you Myrt: dour, thin, plain. Definitely not a Magonigle, nothing wild about her. But that’s another story.

Today I am packing for Jill’s funeral. Black skirt, black blouse, black shoes. But I also fold in a black and white cotton shawl, batiked with a fish design, as well as a bathing suit. We are both Pisces, Jill and I, with birthdays two days apart. Maybe I’ll do some swimming for the both of us.

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