Let’s say that your mother died this summer and so far you’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping your emotions buried.
Let’s say that you have been going around doing the paperwork things that follow an event like this and you have carried on for the most part in business-like conduct while others were weeping and remembering things they shared with your mother.
Let’s say that there is one item that represents to you all that you must leave behind forever. Of all the possessions to be sorted and divided, distributed and discarded, this one thing has become the vessel of your grief.
Let’s say that it was a small concrete urn that arrived on the scene when you were 8 years old. It was the first luxury item you can remember and it was a thing to be wondered at – a completely frivolous decorative item. It remained the only such non-utilitarian item for many years thereafter.
Let’s say that the urn was painted many different colors over the decades and in the family photos, you can see it bright pink behind the childhood wading pool. There it is behind you all white now as you stand in the backyard in your Confirmation robe. It has been green twice, then finally a soft pale yellow. There has been paint applied in colors you didn’t remember until you look down through the peeling layers and suddenly remember “Ah, avocado green - I was in high school then.” Or “Grey. It stayed put during the flood and when we washed away the mud, you could see the grey paint on it.”
Let’s say that you were planning to take the urn in all its peeling, shabby glory to your own home to preserve the connection to what you have lost and to remember as much as you can.
Then let’s say that you drive up to your childhood home and when you get to the back end of the driveway, you see this:
The goddam Deer Painter has sanded down the urn, spray painted it center-stripe yellow, placed it on a matching cinder block and filled it full of plastic flowers.
Let’s say that you haven’t really cried too much since your mother died but now you have totally lost it about the cement urn that carried the layers of your life and now they're gone forever.