My mother lies in an unmarked grave. The bare earth is appalling, looks painful. It's an abomination. But it's nothing compared to the holocaust of my mother's death itself, which flayed the skin from my face, my hands, my heart.
We couldn't face putting a gravestone up for her -- my brother, my father, and I.
We just refused. We refused to talk of it; we refused to think on it. Let her passing remain fresh and sharp and obscene in its inability to be reconciled with the world we thought we knew. Don't let grass grow over her, so that she blends in with others who have gone before her. Don't let her become just another name on another granite stone.
We couldn't do it. We simply couldn't do it. And can you imagine: the ground in which she lies is the ground that grew the cotton that scarred her hands. It is the ground she walked as a child, the most beautiful child of all God's children. It is the ground that grew the food she ate. This ground that raised up this woman now covers her and envelops her; and it is only now that it can support the physical or emotional weight of a marker. It is soft North Carolina dirt. It accepted her and now it carries her, but like us, it needed time to adjust to the offering and would not be rushed. This red, bruised ground has not yet settled enough for her to be covered - it won't yet uphold a concrete slab. That won't be placed for some years. But the marker needs to be there. So people know where to go to weep and wail and lay hands on the earth.
I thought that each milestone, each anniversary, would make it easier for me to start breathing again, but I was wrong. My aunt Nita says that she talks to my mom all the time. I want to do this too, but I don't know to reach for her and not feel her in my hands. I dream about her all the time, though. All the time.
Don't you see that this is all I have and God, please let me keep sleeping.