[april 14, 2011]
We decided on a Thursday that it wasn’t the right day to pick up her ashes. Something just didn’t feel right about it, as if we imagined there would be a day when it would make sense to pick up the ashes of our dead baby girl. So we went on Friday, in the afternoon. We picked a particular funeral home because they only charged $241 to cremate Margot, and the other funeral home I called wanted $635. Screw that, I said to Kari after hanging up. For a split second I wasn’t calling around about the price of cremation, but something more ordinary, like the price of carpet cleaning or an oil change.
I had driven by the funeral home a hundred times since moving to Pasadena. I always marveled at the beauty of the place. The red stone walls, the spanish bell tower, the lush landscaping.
I parked the car at the back of the lot, in a place where people wouldn’t be able to see the tears that I knew were coming. We walked in through the double doors and made our way down a long hallway with classy carpet and ornate frames filled with fabricated images of nature. Kari sat in a chair halfway down the hallway and I walked up to a large woman sitting at a desk. She wore a business suit and a look of disregard. I didn’t know what to say. What do you say? My name? My daughters name?
I felt like the whole world should know about what happened to us. I felt like this woman should have seen us coming and had everything ready.
Hi, she said blandly, as if I just interrupted her.
For a moment, I wanted to slap her. Any of the anger I had experienced suddenly had a target. I felt like unloading the shitstorm of the past two weeks onto her with every gruesome detail. I wanted to ask her how it was possible to be so damn surly, even when almost every person she encounters is there because of death. Then it was gone and I’m standing in front of her with my head down and my eyes glazed over, trying desperately to find some words.
Hi, I muttered back.
I’m here to pick up my daughter.