Imagined Reflections on a Memorial in Tucson

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He kissed her good-bye that morning. Gave her a hug and told her to have fun. Then he began his Saturday work around the house.

The phone rang. He picked it up. Yes, speaking. What? No, he hadn’t heard. Terrible. No. What?

Oh, God.

The next days were fog, thick and blinding. The shock. The pain. The casseroles. He didn’t know where he was. He barely knew who he was. He heard familiar voices around him, he heard their pain, but he didn’t register faces. The only face he wanted was hers.

Wednesday. A memorial. You need to be there, they told him. It will help. Closure. You need closure, they said. It’s too soon, he told himself. But he needed to be there, they told him. So he would be. For her.

They arrived. Right on time. Just as they were told.  Along with all the others. Right on time. Here? he wondered. A smiling young blond ushered him, them, in to the arena. An arena? he wondered. Didn’t seem right.

Someone handed him a t-shirt. No, not right at all. “No,” he muttered, shaking his head, pushing the item away. “Okay,” the someone said. “If you’re sure…” He was. He walked to the next usher. The next handler. The next smiling young blond. Here. Sit here. The front row, she said. That’s right. Perfect. “So exciting,” he heard her whisper to another.

He closed his eyes. Took a breath. And he waited. As the place grew louder with voices. Distant giggles. Shouts. A rumbling din. What you hear while waiting for a basketball game. At an arena.

Time passed. He opened his eyes. Crowds still streamed in. Smiling faces. Tens of thousands. Not one known to him. He waited. Until the applause signaled him to attention. And the cheering. It had begun. This memorial.

Enter the parade. A medicine man. Some music. Faces from television, from the news, from the nation’s capitol. He didn’t know them. They didn’t know her. They spoke. And they would point at him, smile at him. And the tens of thousands would cheer. More words. A disjointed blur. A disjointed slur. Thanks for coming…a great university…the creator…a letter from Paul…be civil…such a tragedy…be civil…be better. And they would applaud. Those tens of thousands. Applauding. Cheering. Whistling. So exciting.

And deafening. Pounding in his head. Echoing, vibrating from the seats high above. So exciting. And now they were standing. He guessed he should too. Right? More words. More applause. More standing. More whistles and cheers. He heard her name. And they were clapping. And looking at him, smiling. And crushing his ribs.

They stood again. It was over. Done. This memorial. You need to be there, they had told him. It will help. He followed them out. Those tens of thousands. Back to the car. Back to his home.

He walked inside. He looked around. She would not be waiting there. Now, or ever again. He looked at the faces around him. Faces known to him. And to her. Voices familiar. How wrong they had been. “What was that?” he asked. They had no answers this time. All they could do was shrug and shake their heads.


  1. tom harlin
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink


  2. David R. Graham
    Posted January 27, 2011 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    The Divine Mother speaks. Thank you! Keep it up!!