He stared at that door for a very long time. People stopped and talked to him, probably, but eventually they went away. As word got out . . . others joined him, not saying anything or doing anything besides just standing next to him. Eventually security arrived to move the small gathering along. A few dock workers explained why that was a very bad idea in calm voices that did nothing to hide a lot of pain and anger.
Eventually he felt a hand on his shoulder that gripped with a strength he could not match or ignore. “You be commin wif us, now. We be gittin ya ready for the ceremony.”
He didn’t know what they were talking about but he followed them away from the damned door, numb. It was the same three dockworkers who had met him the first time he had a date with Dee. They lead him back into the concourse and spent some time having him properly fitted for a suit.
“Need to be perfect.” The biggest growled at anybody who was nearby. “It for Dierdre.”
He raised his arms when asked and mutely followed directions but there was something missing. A hollow spot and he knew there were no clone jumps, no chance for her to return . . . sometimes things change and they don’t go back. Finally he was dressed to the satisfaction of his guardian angels and they were again on the move.
It speaks volumes about the modern world that there was such a finely tuned ceremonial procedure for funerals lacking a body. Space is a deadly place and often one where the last remains drift forever between the stars. Funerals are not for the dead, however. They are the way the living say their final goodbyes and try to come to terms with being the survivors.
Platitudes and homilies washed across him like the wind ripples a field of grass. The words did not register as meanings but as emotions and comfort and maybe that is what is supposed to happen. Each person spoke of her and together they built the memory . . . which is all that would remain. His turn. What would he say? how could he . . .say . . .anything?
Numb legs carried him up to where he had to be, blurry eyes looked out into other eyes filled with tears. People he knew, others he did not. It did not matter because they all were here for the one person, Dierdre. He opened his mouth, still not knowing what he was going to say. “Some folks, dey measure demselves by da size o der wallet. Others, dey measure other tings. Me, I just knew that I meant sometin ta Dee and that was enough. When she listened to ya, she really listened. She was always there, in da moment. She made me, hell she made all o’ us, want to be better, ta be worth her attention. She’d mention sometin in passin and I would go out and learn me all I could about it, just ta show I cared. I am damn sure she mentioned how she liked a well dressed man ta some friends o mine cause dey always made sure I was appropriate in my attire.”
“Damn right.” One of the angels stage whispered from a middle row.
“She knew da pilots and the hangers, the whole damn station be hers . . . and in the end, the station failed ta keep her safe. We failed and now we is here ta say we is sorry. Funny ting is? I know she would forgive us in a snap.” Mike snapped his fingers, the sound loud in the quiet hall. “But I don’t know iffen we gonna be as forgiven of ourselves.” Mike took a long shuddering breath and paused, trying get himself back under control. “I got . . . I got her a book and was looking forward to giving it to her. I gonna read just a bit ta ya iffen ya don’t mind.” He cleared his throat and took another deep breath as he pulled the book from a pocket where he had absent-mindedly placed it.
I understand, I really do. Death is scary and the thought that one person or group have somehow managed to escape it is even scarier. But for whom? Every death leaves a scar on the people who are left behind. It tears a piece of them away. I would personally shun immortality because the loss over the years as my mortal friends died would shred me until there might be nothing left. In the end I might become afraid to live, to love. At that point I would no longer be the person I wish to be. We all face loss . . .but can we heal from it? Will immortals learn to live with the death that follows them but never touches them directly?
“Issah was right about a lot of tings. I loved Dierdre. I tink a lot of folks here did, as well. We gotta acknowledge the loss and then we will begin ta heal. Dat be what Issah was talkin about in dis here journal and I know dat be what Dee woulda wanted us to do. I ain’t saying . . . ” He paused as there was a commotion going on in the hall. “. . . I ain’t saying we forget her. Doubt I could iffen I tried. What I am saying . . .”
There was a small group of people yelling angrily and others piling on top of them. In the noise Mike could not make out a single word being said. He looked helplessly over to the funeral director who nodded and keyed in a recessional. Mike nodded and put the book back in his pocket and stepped off to the side. He did not get far before a small group caught up to him.
“Not done” The largest ground out. “Now we say good bye the right way.”
Mike looked up at him. “Lots of drinking and stories?”
The smaller one took his arm and smiled. “I knew you were a traditionalist at heart. You, of course, be buyin.”
Mike nodded. “Of course . . . ”
Together they left the hall behind, it sounded like a riot was starting in there but it did not matter, there were the proprietaries to observe.
Lessons and questions
You may have noticed, aside from a few snide comments I did not get too involved in the New Eden is burning. Mainly because I always had something better to do.
Now that the results of the CSM are back . . . meh. The doom-sayers still cry doom, the optimists look hopeful. I still have things to do in the game.
More incursion fittings in the next post, then more on this side plot of mine. The funeral is not the end . . .
Still time to post comments but they have to be on the A Bad Don post to count for the entry for the next free ship.
fly it like you won it