In Memoriam by Tangela Williams-Spann
CW: Implied death
I visited my friends today.
The tomb was disturbingly cold. It needed to be to preserve the remains, but it was distressing, nevertheless. Their ornate coffins were lined up against the walls of the tomb. Opening a few of the caskets, I was relieved to find their bodies still intact, however cold and stiff. It was hard for them to move. For a moment, they did seem glad to see me. That moment was fleeting.
I needed to see them to make myself feel better. It didn’t actually work.
It had been an exceedingly long time. Their voices were gone and it was a struggle for them to respond to me. It took a lot of coaxing to get any sound out of them. It didn’t make me feel any better about what I was doing.
I struggled to reason with myself. Your voice will be strained too. It would be hard for you to move as well if you had been trapped in a box for a year and a half.
My younger, smaller friends were hesitant but spoke to me after some persuasion. They’re voices sounded off, seemed strained after months of unuse. The older ones had trouble moving, their joints stiff and sore with the effort. I barely got a sound out of them. Their frustration and anger were palpable.
“I’m sorry I’ve been away.” No response. I didn’t deserve one.
“They said it wasn’t safe.” Still no response. I wasn’t there when they needed me, and it may be too late to mend what was broken between us.
I hoped not. My friends only needed a little attention. Some love and tenderness to bring back their voices and mend their bodies. I could make them sing again, as they deserve to.
Or can I? Or should I?
This brief reunion was difficult for all of us. They could barely move or speak, and I had trouble facing them again. I was sad for them. They appeared to be sad for me but there was more to it than that. Their voices couldn’t sing but their silence accused. The blame for their condition was placed squarely on my shoulders. And I couldn’t deny my wrongdoing.
My friends seemed content to waste away peacefully and I’d interrupted them. Their passing on was going well until I injected myself into their peace. They were satisfied with moving on and I wasn’t. They had every right to be upset.
I didn’t visit for long. I’m not sure when the next time we will be able to sing again together. I miss them more every day. I asked myself why I continue to come to that place that won’t let me sing with my friends. It’s getting harder every time. How I long for the days when we can be together freely again.
But I’m sure that time is long gone now. And I needed to grieve.
I closed the delicate casket lids and laid a tribute of orchids on top of the largest. I left quietly while wiping away tears. I didn’t want to disturb anyone else’s rest with my hubris. My friends deserved this peace, and it was time for me to move on without them.
Tangela Williams-Spann is a mental health and wellness blogger as well as the mother of an autistic person. She began writing poems and short stories in elementary school and continued to let words move her into action throughout her life. Her first book, Sad, Black, and Fat: Musings from the Intersections, was released in August 2021. When not writing, Tangela enjoys reading, crochet, and playing video games.