Ali and I climbed down into the grave. (Ali being my 26 year old brother) They opened the transit casket, which was placed next to us so we could reach in and grab father. Feeling his tender flesh through the white cloth which covered him- it would be the last time- I didn't want to let go, not even after Ali and I gently lowered him to the bottom. I wanted to lay down in there on top of him, bury my face in his chest and just curl up like a five year old child..
[Two hours before, I stood and watched as two holy men washed Father, preparing him for burial. I don't know where I found the courage or the resolve to stand there and to even help them.. Maybe because I knew that those were the final moments where I could still see him, touch him, adore him..]
We started to position the wooden boards diagonally over him, to keep the earth off of him, and I realized that it was to be the last time I ever lay eyes on him, or on his broken form through a piece of cloth.
[It's times like that when, surrounded by 100 people, you put your hand over your mouth. You do this to stop your lip from quivering, to stop your chin from trembling, to avoid those uncontrollable panic breaths you take when you're overwhelmed and about to cry really hard.. The hand over the mouth helps..]
Then we begin to replace the earth and the very last finality kicks you in the teeth, as if you're not already down enough. Everyone takes a turn re-filling the grave, hastily, as if to get it over with and save me from completely losing it.. Because I'm dying a thousand deaths watching all of this, my heart is breaking to see my little brother cry..
It's been forty days.. How am I doing? Not sure really. I guess I'm feeling better in a lot of ways.. but no matter how dry my eyes appear, no matter how good I've gotten at forcing a smile or feigning interest, I have not stopped crying, not for an instant.
Above, Dad's old watering hole, one of them actually, his favorite: "5 Corners". Below, this used to be the grocery store where, 30 years ago, I used to go buy dad his beer and mom her cigarettes. I'd also load up on 25 cent bags of chips and junk food, and those 16 ounce bottles of Coke that were made of glass and covered in the old styrofoam which I would always peel off in strips and put inside of the bottle, after guzzling it, of course.
Above, a view down 130th Street in College Point, Queens. This is the street where I lived from age 5 to 15. From our home's front picture window, we had an awesome view of the Whitestone Bridge, below. At night it would be all lit up and look pretty sweet. Here's a real estate lesson: We bought the house in 76 for $58,000 and sold it 10 years later in 86 for $216,000. Today, these homes are $700,000+. Buy on weakness and never sell.
As you can see, I spent the day in New York on business, and on the way back I stopped in the old neighborhood and visited with some old friends, or I should say, with their parents, because everyone has flown the nest for other parts. Above, just as I'm crossing the Whitestone Bridge into the Bronx, sunlight breaks through a peephole in the clouds, finding me. Lucky shot.
Thanks for reading.