In Memory

by

All week I have not known what to do, so I’ve collected food and funds, run to the store and made telephone calls.  I can’t bear to think about what has happened to someone I know and am fearful of it happening to me, to my son. I don’t know how Yuhong bears the pain.

James’ memorial service was today at four o’clock.  My fifteen year old son Ryan and I attended.  He helped me prepare food for the reception, then went to put on his good khaki pants, blue striped dress shirt and one of his brother’s ties, the yellow one with tiny blue diamonds.

He knocked on my bedroom door, clothes in his hands.  “Do you mind ironing the pants and shirt for me?” he asked. He’s never done that before. Usually he puts on whatever is available, wrinkled or not and argues with me about having to take it off again because it’s not presentable.

We loaded the car and arrived at the high school early. Several friends met us at the front and we carried in the food purchased with donations from people at the nursing home where Yuhong and I work.  Ryan opened packages, arranged food on silver and crystal platters and didn’t seem to notice that he was the only teenage boy amongst the women and girls helping set up.

At four o’clock we gathered with others at the auditorium door, signed our sentiments in the guest book, took the program for the service and filed to our seats. The huge room was filled with students, teachers, members of the community and friends. Photographs of James came into focus and faded away as they changed in a slide show on the screen on stage, a smiling kindergartener with ABC’s taped across the blackboard behind him, a sixth grader on his first day of middle school, a nervous smile on his face, an excited boy with his father in a stream, holding a just-caught fish, a teenager with bangs swept to the side and a determined look as he perfected a trick on his skateboard, a serious musician strumming a guitar. Fifteen years of James’ life.

A minister lead us in prayer, someone read a poem, teachers spoke of a young man’s commitment to school, kindness to others, sense of humor, his smile, and how he honored those who knew him. James’ two best friends presented a power point slide show of their favorite pictures of James as the Beatles sang Strawberry Fields Forever in the background.  The last photograph was of a laughing James with the words: Rest in Peace Friend.

Ryan and I didn’t stay for refreshments. We couldn’t eat.  We walked to the car in silence and didn’t say much on the way home. After we pulled into the driveway, Ryan went to the garage to see how his Dad was coming along on the boat repairs. I walked to the backyard toward the garden, not wanting to go into the house, but not knowing what else to do.

As I stopped at the garden gate something pink caught my eye. My grandma’s resurrection lilies were blooming at the fence near the clothesline. Every year, they rise from the earth and bloom all in a single day.  I was glad they chose today. 

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8 Responses to “In Memory”

  1. OldMack Says:

    Very moving and serendipitous bloomin’ ending.

    • train-whistle Says:

      thank you Mack. The lilies are also known as magic or surprise lilies. I always heard my Grandma call them resurrection lilies, apropos in this instance I believe.

  2. Bonnie Dean Says:

    Heartfelt and moving writing.

  3. Stephanie Says:

    LOVE it as always Margaret!

  4. Valorie Says:

    Too many have experienced the pain associated with a life gone too soon. Love your heartfelt words.

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