Sand and Water

Days prior to that biting cold February day when my sister was memorialized, I had warned my husband that I was going to wear a red dress to her service. He gulped. Then he diplomatically attempted to advise me against doing so. Yet, the more he tried, the more attractive that dress became to me; making me more determined than ever to wear that “bad boy”. Yep. To her funeral. Yes, to her memorial service. Yes, in February. In the snow…and ice…wearing high heels.

It is a exceptionally bright red dress… long sleeved, heavy crepe, nearly ankle length, trimmed with a black faux lamb’s fur collar and matching cuffs. I hadn’t worn the thing in over 10 years. Last time I remember wearing it, my son was a baby. I had given everyone (except for my parents) time to get used to the idea that I would be wearing it. This was no secret. I even gave a courtesy warning to both my brother and his wife for good measure.

However, I don’t think that any of them actually believed that I would carry through on this. I did. I wore it. Yes sir/ma’am, I did. And…

I had the nerve to look good in it.

My sister’s memorial service was held at a religious “house of worship” that, for my own personal reasons, I hardly attend anymore. It is a place where I am considered somewhat of a persona non grata, (not for any sin I committed, mind you, but because I refuse to put up with their nonsense and feel free to challenge what I do not believe to be right in the face of self-righteousness) But I digress…

And so, I certainly didn’t see what more harm wearing a “li’l ole red dress” could possibly cause. On that day, I also chose to wear a matching herringbone patterned, stylishly sweeping, red and black shawl.

On the way to the service, (we have a family van; also red), we swung by my Mom and Dad’s house to pick them up, so that we could all arrive together. When we arrived, Dad was cool and collected. And although it did appear that Mom was a bit unnerved when she saw me get out of the van (in my red, red dress) to let them in, she did somehow manage to haltingly stumble out the words, “You certainly look pretty” to me. I smiled, nodded; and we rode, mostly in silence, to the memorial service as I looked out of my passenger side window; staring at the dirty snow on the ground.

“Solid stone is but sand and water, baby”

When we arrived, I immediately took my place up front and center and waited for the service to begin.

I had designed the programs myself, and had selected from my own personal album collection, a photograph of my sister walking along the beach for the cover. (Don’t forget this; as it will be important to remember later on). There were two religious denomination-specific songs printed on separate paper, that had been inserted into the program. (Another long story). On the back of the program I had included an excerpt from the song “Sand and Water” by Beth Nielsen Chapman. In addition, I had also printed for myself two alternate songs and had discreetly slipped them into the fold of my own personal program, so that I could create my own memories. The songs were:

“The Whole of the Moon”, by The Waterboys and “Sometimes Goodbye is A Second Chance”, by Shinedown.

Overall, the service was dignified and well done. However, I must confess that I became a bit edgy when the service began drifting off to “what my sister would have said if she were here” and “what she believed”, followed by a brief “please come to our place of worship” info-mercial.

I did it. I got through the service. Without crying. Afterwards, I hugged. I shook hands. I smiled.

As I stood in my red dress and high heels, I knew that my sister would have been proud of me. And then I remembered the words in the song:

“Solid stone is but sand and water baby…sand and water and a million years gone by…”

And so I hurt, and wait…

For a million years to go by.

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