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Emmaline and Ellison Pt. 3
After a couple of weeks, Dad begins arranging Mother’s funeral. Grandmother and Grandfather fly in from Florida, and Dad schedules to get Ellie’s cast off. She was supposed to get it off 3 weeks ago, but we’ve been avoiding the hospital since mother’s death. It’s kind of a sore spot.
Our Grandmother and Grandfather stay in a hotel near our apartment because our apartment is so tiny. They come over pretty soon after arriving in Connecticut. Ellie hasn’t left our bedroom since Mom died. She hides in our tiny closet, refusing to talk to anyone. She’s taken it the hardest.
I cry every night in bed. It was my fault that mom died. If I’d left that stupid coin of Ellie’s back in New Jersey, the accident wouldn’t have happened at all. And mom would still be sitting here with us right now.
“Hi grandma,” I said, giving her a hug. They’d just arrived.
“Hi darling, how are you?”
“I’ve been better,” I said with a weak smile, “are you okay?”
“She was my only daughter,” grandma said, tears filling her eyes, “I thought that I’d go first. I guess fate had other ideas.”
I say hello to grandpa. They ask about Ellie, and I tell them that she is upstairs hiding in our closet.
“Isn’t she going to therapy?” grandpa asked.
“Yes, but she won’t speak to anyone. Not even me or Dad,” I explained, “we tried. Her therapist says that she needs more closure before we bring her back.”
“Hmm,” grandpa says, and slowly makes his way to the stairs.
“How are your legs, Emma? Getting stronger?” grandma asks.
I’m shocked. This is the first question about my physical being in months. I was devastated to be kicked off the volleyball team because of my ridiculous leg braces, and then when I got home it was all about mom and Ellie’s broken wrist.
“I’m coping,” is my response.
Grandpa comes back downstairs, holding Ellie’s hand. Her other is encased by the purple cast that was supposed to be taken off weeks ago, but now we all refuse to go back to the hospital. I don’t think any of us ever will.
Grandma begins to organize everything we’ve gotten. Once word got out that mom had died, people began sending things: flowers, cards, candy, baked goods, meals and more. We’ve been eating lasagnas for days.
Grandpa begins to talk to Ellie, and I’m soon forgotten again. I go sit outside on our bench that swings back and forth. I’m just sitting there, swinging, when a familiar car pulls into the driveway.
“Ben! Jerri! What are you guys doing here?” I said, leaping from my seat.
They get out of the car and I give them both hugs.
“We heard about your mother, Emma. We’re so sorry. We thought that we’d help out here for a while. We’re staying at a hotel nearby,” Ben said.
Jerri gave me a piece of chocolate from her purse. I smiled gratefully. We had tons of candy and chocolate inside, but Dad wouldn’t let me have any.
Wishtree comes out of the doggy door to greet Ben and Jerri like old friends, and then I lead them into the house. It’s chaotic in the house. Dad is on the phone talking to the funeral people; Grandma is trying to make room for all of the lasagnas in the fridge; Grandpa is trying to get Ellie to talk, who is screaming at him.
“It’s very loud in here,” Ben says.
“Yes,” I reply, “if you just want to set your stuff down, we could either go to my room or back outside where it’s quieter.”
“I’d like to see your room!” Jerri says.
I show Ben and Jerri the cramped and messy bedroom, where they admired all of my things from Connecticut. We went downstairs, where Ben and Grandpa started talking and Jerri helped Grandma organize our gifts. I went back to sitting outside.
Mother’s funeral was held two months after her death. I put on a black dress, and sit in the front row of the pews in the church with Daddy, Emma, Grandpa, and Grandma. Ben and Jerri are right behind us.
My whole body still feels numb. I say quiet hellos to all of the people who came. Many of them cry. I have cried when I was sitting in the closet. I won’t cry here, though. I just try to ignore everything.
The service is long. I don’t pay attention until they close the casket and say that we are heading outside to the graveyard to bury her. Everyone leaves the church, but Daddy, Emma, Grandpa and Grandma and I stay to say our last goodbyes. Grandma and Emma burst into tears upon seeing Mother’s pale body in the casket. Grandpa and Dad are silently crying, trying to be manly. I just stare.
I feel a hand grasp mine. It’s Emma’s. Her face is tearstreaked, her eyes puffy and red and her breathing is very shallow. I notice that the rest of them are heading outside. I am just staring at Mother’s lifeless body. I allow Emma to lead me away from her. 6 men come from another door and close the casket.
I stand between Emma and Daddy as the 6 men carry the casket out to the graveyard. They recite some last words before the casket is lowered into the ground.
The rest of the funeral is a blur. We go to a nearby hall where there’s a small ‘party’ if that’s what you call it. I stayed glued to Daddy’s side as people give their condolences. He stands quietly and listens to people tell their favorite stories and memories of my mother. Emma is in tears for most of the gathering.
That night, I hear Emma crying in bed. I wonder if she’ll ever stop. I feel like I’ll be stuck in this horrible reality forever.
After a couple of months, Daddy and Emma can finally look at pictures of Mother without crying. I finally got the cast off my wrist at our new doctor’s office. I even go back to see Oliver. We talk for a little while before setting a regular schedule to see him.
Mother left a hole in my heart that probably won’t ever be replaced. But she still lives on, inside me, Emma and Daddy.
I love you, Mother.
Emma eventually changed her name to her mother’s name (Lillian) and named her firstborn daughter Lillian as well. With the improvements in technology, Emma was able to stop using leg braces and could walk on her own. She married a wonderful man from her childhood and they had four children together. Ellie continued seeing Oliver on a regular basis for years after the loss. He improved her life greatly. Although Ellie never married, she adopted two children from China who also had Autism. They went to see Oliver until he retired. Their Father never remarried but did recover from the loss. After Emma and Ellie moved away, he developed depression. He smoked and took drugs frequently and overdosed and died when he was only 58. Ben and Jerri stayed in contact with the family until their deaths. They both lived good long lives, Ben living to 87 and Jerri living to 91.