‘Oh we don’t care about that sort of thing,’ his oldest sister said, speaking for his three older sisters – speaking perhaps for all wisdom and all reason – when he asked where his father’s ashes would be taken.
She explained that their father’s body would be taken alone to the crematorium. Everyone would be going instead to the hotel for the reception after the church service.
He didn’t like to think of his father being transported to the crematorium alone. It felt wrong somehow. But then he didn’t want to be seen to be weird. He felt so alone; desperate to belong somewhere, desperate to be included in the ‘we’ of his sister’s explanation. And besides, did he really care? His father was dead dead dead after all, his body nothing but a shell of course. Balancing it all up, he didn’t care enough to make a point. And any action in contrast to his three sisters – following the body to the crematorium for example – would, inevitably, be pointed.
Then later, when he wanted to converse with his father, he had no particular place to go. Where exactly was his father in this cold, indifferent universe? For reasons that weren’t clear to him, he started to think of his father as being in the sky somewhere. And only at night. And only very vaguely. He didn’t shape this thought; he just let it sit at the edge of his brain, half-formed.
And now his mother is dead, he’s certain of one thing and one thing alone. He’s going to make damn sure he knows where she ends up. He’s going to visit her grave and say to her, ‘Here you are. Just here. I’ve got you pegged. That much I know.’