We’re headed out in an hour to see Anne-Christine’s newly installed monument and have a picnic at Cook cemetery.
I feel a strange sense of peace and closure about this most dreaded aspect of death — putting someone in the ground.
Liberty is approximately an hour’s drive away, northeast of the Bayou City. My son Brett’s wife Nigia is preparing an Azeri-themed lunch for us. We’ve brought a blanket for the Johnsons and Deakles to sit on.
Anne-Christine’s former father-in-law Dorrance, who lives in Liberty, cycled over yesterday and sent us photos of the new monument. They poured concrete for the base Thursday and our fingers were crossed it would be ready today, so we could all coalesce in love and perhaps restore some dignity to her aborted life.
I cried yesterday when he texted photos of the bench that now sits atop two tombstones. It’s minimalist and elegant. I really think she’d like the font we picked for her tombstone. Kind of artsy and gothic, the way she used to write her name. None of her famous squiggles though.
Her gravesite might reflect her elegance and class, but I also chose the bench for functionality. The hot Texas sun enervates even into long, dusky summer nights. I don’t want Anne-Christine’s oldest son shifting uncomfortably from foot to foot when he visits. Her friends need a place to sit when they toast her with wine and cigarettes next week. We need to be comfortable in order to ponder the imponderable.
There’s a young soldier buried next to Anne-Christine, not an old person, although her oldest son’s great-grandma is buried close by. I think she would like that. We buried her ashes in the small Texas town she loved so much in her early twenties. She loved its picaresque courthouse square, Liberty’s homey vibe and strong family values. Anne-Christine admired the strong-southern-woman ethos of her paternal grandmother, Marilynn and her ex-husband’s great-grandmother Mamaw, buried nearby.
I’m getting maudlin but you have to find some comfort in small details when dealing with overwhelming grief and the still-fresh realization you can’t just pick up the phone and call your daughter to tell her she’s not going to believe this, but …
But I am not resigned, as Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote in her famous poem, Dirge Without Music. I do not approve.
Neither should the women I’ll address at the annual meeting of Bay Area Turnning Point next week. Maybe I’ll read a quote from this elegiac poem. I desperately want Anne-Christine’s story to avoid becoming theirs.
Dirge Without Music
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
If you are in an abusive relationship, please leave now. The date of death on her tombstone is Dec. 31. She actually was murdered on Dec. 8. Her body was not found until Dec. 31. We had to go with the coroner’s report.
I’ll be thinking about that today, when I visit her final resting place.