Young Massie sat quietly on the small wooden steps and watched as her world slowly came to life. The robins scampered about looking for a tasty treat to feed their young. Butterflies darted here and there in the morning light. The last of the night's dew still glistened on the grass. She sighed deeply as she hugged her skinny legs tightly to her chest.
A small breeze caressed her face, and she lifted her tiny chin upward as if to embrace the moment. The early morning sun warmed her small body. This was her favorite time of day. She reckoned it always would be.
She listened intently at the hushed voices and whispers behind her. She pondered the past couple of days and all the upheaval it brought. The adults had cooked and cleaned. They had practically emptied out one entire room in her little house. Small wooden chairs had been brought in and placed about just waiting for someone, anyone, to use. Floors had been scrubbed and cobwebs wiped away from their hiding places. A coffee pot sat ominously on the stove in the kitchen. She knew it was almost time and that her small world was about to become anything but normal.
People would come by the dozens. Some she would know. Many would be complete strangers. People would laugh, and cry. They would shake hands, hug and pat each other on the back. They would sing and pray. Preachers would come to preach the gospel. They would shout loudly as they gave way to the Holy Spirit. All that commotion made her uncomfortable. She just wished they didn't have to make such a ruckus.
She watched as the shiny car pulled into the yard. Her eyes were wide and sad as she watched two men get out of the car and walk toward the back. They opened the double doors and slowly pulled out a long gray box.
Then she saw it. She caught a glimpse of the long black car as it came slowly down the dirt road. Her dark brown eyes watched carefully as it rounded the curve and rolled out of sight. She knew it would turn around and in a few minutes come back into sight again. She watched as the shiny car pulled into the yard. Her eyes were wide and sad as she watched two men get out of the car and walk toward the back. They opened the double doors and slowly pulled out a long gray box.
Massie didn't know a lot about death but she knew enough. She knew that whenever someone died they were never around again. They were gone. Just plain gone to a new place, a new life and a new beginning. She knew that death changed things forever. She knew that these men were bringing her granny home one last time. Truth be told, she knew more than she should have at such a tender age.
The two men each grabbed a handle and carefully carried the gray box up the steps where Massie had been sitting just minutes before. They took the box to the empty room and gingerly placed it in an empty corner. They unfolded some red velvet curtains, placing them behind and on each side of the box. Then one of the men walked to the front and unlatched the lid. He slowly opened the lid; little Massie held her breath as she took her first look inside.
Little Granny is what she always called her.“I'll never die till you die” is what Little Granny always told her. Massie wasn't ever quite sure exactly what she meant by that. She walked up closer to get a better look. Gasping, she stood and looked at the body inside. It was definitely her granny alright, but she looked much different than Massie remembered. Her skin was pale, almost as white as the satin pillows that she was laying on. Her eyes were closed just as if she were asleep. Her lips were pressed thinly together like they had been glued shut.
Massie stepped in even closer. Dare she touch her? She reached in and placed her hand under the thin lace veil that had been draped over the lid. Just one quick touch, she thought.
Slowly, Massie touched her granny's hand one last time. It was as cold and lifeless as the darkest winter's night. Quickly, she quickly pulled her hand away and backed away from the gray box.
She walked out of the room and out of the house of death. She longed to be outside again in the bright morning light. As she stepped onto the porch, she took long deep breaths of the country air. She could hear the birds singing loudly and feel the warm sunshine once again. Here there was life, she thought. Here there was hope.
People were starting to arrive now. Soon the tiny house would be full and people would be spilling out onto the porch and yard. Some people would stay the night. They would drink dark black coffee and talk in whispers about everything and nothing at all.
Massie knew that this was just the way that her people said goodbye to their loved ones.
It was the way they grieved and mourned. It was their way of letting go and moving on. It was just their way but it was not her way. It was not her way at all.
Della Eaves grew up in Eastern Kentucky. She has been blessed with a rich legacy and heritage of mountain life. She is a retired R.N. and enjoys writing, journaling, photography, and hiking. Her love for reading and writing began at a very early age. Her work has been published in The Lake Time News. She currently lives in south central Kentucky.