I was holding up pretty well. Fortuitously, whenever I began to feel the pain creeping up, someone would come by and smile and hug me and laugh about the red dress and how much that would have meant to Aunt Helen. Family members from near and far, Aunt Helen’s friends and fellow nurses from the Navy hospital on base where she worked as a civilian for years and years before she retired, funeral home staff, some people I didn’t even know.
It was warm, but not yet uncomfortably so just yet. Standing in front of the funeral home this morning, smoking a cigarette in my blue pinstriped suit with only a red silk tie to symbolize her defiance, I was still holding it together.
Watching my cousin gave me comfort. She wore her loudest red dress, great big tropical flowers on it, bright red nails on fingers and toes, and a red sweater. It was a beautiful dress on a beautiful woman, and more than that it was a great big “Fuck you – Love, Mom” to anyone brazen enough to consider opening their yap about it. She was simply stunning.
Though she was the most redly dressed of us all today, a quick glance around told who was saying what with their wardrobe. Red hankies, red socks, and even a pair of red sunglasses flashed here and there. It was quiet solidarity, and it was moving.
I was relatively calm inside until I saw them. It was only when I saw those nine faces that I began to lose it.
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