Death has made a mistakepublished: 2010-08-22
As we entered, the two young girls were drawing on the coffin. We couldn’t see what exactly, just that they were using bright colours, shaking the pens. Glitter pens maybe? We could hear the ring of gypsy-style ankle bracelets as they moved around the coffin, seemingly unaware of our entrance, entirely absorbed.
The younger of the two girls wore a satin dress with a black rose sewn to one of the straps. Her sister sported a dark-grey hat. She was pale. Her younger sister was flushed.
“Death has made a mistake,” their grandmother said, “it has taken my daughter instead of me.”
And later, when the girls spoke to us, the one with the rose said her father mentioned they should take a good look at their grandma as that was what their mother would have looked like in 40 years.
They each laid their head – in turns – on their fatber’s shoulder who was intent on being there for them that moment. And he was. While from behind, we could all see that the shoulders they leaned on were bent forward, more so than they had been before.
We left and so did they, the three of them went home together. On bicycles.
“Do they sleep in your bed?” I asked him and he said, “no. I sleep alone.”