If I dare relive this day 1996 it is already too late. James is missing. The night that can never be undone has happened. James’ friend Marcus stops by to check on me. I know that he knows where James is. This time my emotions can neither be corralled nor reigned in. I am hostage to these domineering feelings. Despite my face set hard and head held high I am barely holding on. I must see my husband one last time. I lock eyes with his best friend, Take me to him, now.
James, in a filthy back room, stands by a window. His dark clothes are crumpled; his dreds shoved under a cap. He peers between the slats of the closed blinds. He looks like a fugitive. Then it registers: he is a fugitive. My heart hurts. Outside children play and laugh. It is an absolutely beautiful Easter Sunday in Minnesota. Juxtaposition? Maybe this is when all I have held to for so long simply crumbles—mingles with the debris in the darkened bedroom. If I return now to that very spot, will I see it? My lifelong faith in God’s promise to give us a future and a hope? Will it have decayed and shriveled up to a blackened coil? If I retrieve it now what can I do but bury it or better yet cremate it and toss the ashes with those of the only man I have loved.
Two days later, April 9, the chaplain arrives with the ultimate finality and delivers the crush from which healing does not exist. My first love is dead, on his 37th birthday. Every spring, every daylights savings time, every Easter mock my loss and trumpet what prayer and faith did not do. At least not for us.
I add up losses just since 1996. My mother, all the aunts and uncles gone. Cousins. Good, good friends. I don’t like the math. I don’t know what to make of this day of resurrection. I don’t know what to do with spring and its burst of new life. Sixteen years later and I still don’t know how to tend seeds of sorrow fertilized with sunshine, fancy dresses, glazed hams and Easter Lilies.