DISCLAIMER: “Voiceless Statement” is a work of fiction that I wrote a few years back. It’s not quite a story, really; more of an emotional deliberation than anything else. However, the subject that this piece deals with was in my thoughts several times today, so I decided to post it here.
“Hey. We haven’t talked in a while, huh?”
That’s how I start. That’s what I say. My strained words dangle in the cool air like little fishhooks in a caliginous ocean. It’s a lost cause. Within moments, these hopeful little words have faded away — a testament to the crippling insufficiency of verbal language.
Of course — as one would expect — there’s no response. Crematoriums don’t talk back. But I try, anyway. I try because in this case, there’s no grave. No tomb. Nothing but a newspaper clipping and memories.
There’s no place quite so dismal as the crematorium where a loved one was once incinerated. It’s a location that chokes you up in emotion–then immediately stifles that emotion, grabbing you by the throat and shaking it out of you until you forget why you even visited. I haven’t been here since the funeral.
I’m standing outside the building like, well…like someone who’s afraid to go inside. I stand there, looking, looking, looking…I look away. I turn my back. I shake my head, discouraged.
Again, I have to remind myself that crematoriums don’t talk back. Of course they don’t talk back. What am I, stupid? A charmingly cold New England breeze ripples through me; I zip up my jacket, pretending to be warmer than I am. I’m exceedingly distraught. Confused. Again, I’m utterly unsure of why I even came here. I walk around for a bit, debating my next action. After a few minutes, I return to my previous position; despite all of my walking, despite all of my wandering about and debating the possibilities, I still seem to always come back to where I was in the beginning. A circle isn’t truly a circle if it breaks.
But am I a circle? Or has the circle been broken?
“Okay, okay,” I say, forcing a smile. “I’m here. I’m here, and I’m going to say hello. Hello.”
Hello? I re-examine the open door of the crematorium. I meant to bring flowers, but I forgot. No, that’s a lie. A complete lie. I’m pretending to myself that I forgot flowers, flowers which I actually didn’t get because the idea of bringing them felt silly. Who am I trying to fool? Myself?
“I’m sorry.” I shake my head. “I don’t know what to say.”
I stare at the building. It stares back at me. I childishly dig my foot into the ground, resisting the urge to walk away. I turn to face the overcast skies above, with another forced smile.
“Nasty weather, huh?” I say, wistfully. “You’d hate it if you could see it.”
My heart yearns to blabber, but my mouth doesn’t want to find the words. I can’t find the words.
I sit down on the wet grass, crossing my legs. The water soaks right into my jeans, but it’s too late to fix that; once you’re wet, you’re wet. You can’t magically become dry.
Childhood seems so far away, so distant, so remote. I spent so many years anticipating the plunge into adulthood that I forgot to hold my breath. Now it’s just…surreal. In my mind, I’m secretly still eight years old, you know? I’m just pulling a big hoax on everybody, anxiously waiting for the moment when everyone finds out I’m really just a little kid wearing an oversized tuxedo.
That’s what death does to a kid. It rushes everything. Death slams you, all at once, with the maturity and strength you normally would’ve developed over many years, at an incomparably harsh price.
I take a deep breath. I came here to say something, didn’t I? I came here to make a point. To spill my guts. It’s time to spill my guts.
“I still miss you.” I say. “And I…I love you. I love you.”
It’s been over a year — and yet, my tear ducts never seem to quite dry up. But you know what? No matter what, I still smile. I still laugh at the memories. I still grin at the photo albums. But I’m not the same person I was before. I can never be the same person again.
They say that time heals all wounds. Okay, sure. Fair enough. No matter what pain a person experiences, happiness will return. So yes, the wounds heal. They do. They really do.
But whoever created that phrase forgot to mention one part – one very important part. Even when the wounds finally heal, the scars remain forever. But you know what? Maybe…
Maybe that’s okay.