I sit here in my study, the echoes of a freight train rumbling outside my window, which brings to mind all of the places I’ve lived. Every one of them had that sound. Late at night the moan, the wailing, soft cry of a train. It’s appropriate that this sound conjures up memories from the past because I’ve been thinking a lot about the past lately.
I can’t get the images and feelings from the memorial service out of my mind. There are so many that I really want to give each of them their due. I’ll try my best, but even as I read over my weak attempts at writing, I know it’s as the minister said, “Words are too thin.” It’s just that each image pulls at me. I cry, but as she said too, “Tears are not enough.” I’m trying to move on, to “remember them well” but all I can do lately is remember them and sink. Grieve. Moan. Weep.
I was fine as my husband and I walked toward the service. It was so bright and sunny, so different from where I live that it immediately made me homesick. But it was also cold, chilling cold, and it sank deep and stayed. We approached the storefront and it was covered with tokens, candles, and flowers. Beautiful and sad. But I was still okay, I was still holding it together. And then I watched the video.
Bryan was performing for Stella’s class at school, his famous “Fat Elvis” complete with huge, oily, black pompadour and sparkly jumpsuit. His glasses reminded me of a friend’s motorcycle goggles more than they did Elvis’s trademark shades. He swaggered out and windmilled his arm wildly, then held up his hand in a “come hither” motion while looking toward the floor. Classic Elvis.
I totally lost it. Behind my own huge sunglasses the enormity of what had happened hit me. It was so quintessentially Bryan, so fucking hilarious, so purely him, that the loss of ALL THIS just hit me like a mack truck. God, I, we, all of us were going to miss this so much.
The kids sat on the floor enthralled, all smiles. They knew how silly, how great this was going to be too. And all the while Kathryn stood backstage, in a doorway really, watching everything quietly. She wore a black tee shirt and had her arms folded, her hand up at her mouth. She smiled quietly, as if to say, “Yeah, that’s my guy all right, I’ve seen this all before, and boy, do I love him anyway.”
Her look made me laugh behind my tears. It was one I’d given to my own husband when he wasn’t looking many times before. The cameraman must have seen what I did, because slowly, the camera moved in for a closeup.
As it did, her look changed ever so slightly. Where before her eyes had spoken a quiet bemusement, briefly, ever so briefly, a look of concern and worry, even fear? passed over them. So quickly that if you blinked, or you were still weeping, you might have missed it.
But I didn’t, and that looks haunts me more than anything else I’ve read or seen or heard. It was like a shadow passed over my heart and for a split second, there was a sharp pain in the pit of my stomach.
What did she see? What was she thinking just then? What was it? I’d never be so bold as to even venture a guess, but it just got to me more than anything else. For a split second in that video, I saw a brief glimmer of darkness where there had been none before. It was so haunting, so unexpected, that I have lain awake nights thinking on it.