And then about an hour before we were supposed to be there I suddenly began to weep.
I thought about our Colin and how much I miss him and how when Kathleen directed the last play I was in with him, she did such a good job and we had so much fun.
I thought about how in rehearsal for that play and we were trying to figure out the logistics of a direction and we did the best we could and it ended up with Colin's face in my crotch on a sofa and for a moment we were all stunned and from the theater, Kathleen said, "Works for me. How about y'all?"
And that's how we did it.
I thought about all the times Kathleen and I did our act as the Miller Sisters Foley company and we smashed cabbages and kicked garbage cans and trotted coconut shells and made wind sounds and ray-gun sounds and fighter pilot sounds and made avalanche sounds by dumping a wheelbarrow full of gravel into a kid pool into the orchestra pit below the stage and on and on and on.
Whatever we could do to make the sounds and more importantly, make the audience laugh by our dead-pan delivery as we performed our roles with our 40's lady's hats on, our crochet needles and knitting needles working up and down between our sound effect moments, our passing of the flask between us, the flask holding redbush tea, I thought about all of it on the stage where people came to speak about her. Tell stories about her.
All my kids were there and Owen and Gibson as well. And Jason and Vergil and can I tell you that by the time the service began, the sky was as blue as the eyes of Paul Newman? Not a damn cloud in sight.
(Owen was hiding.)
And oh! The stories she told! They wavered and they wandered and they involved people whom I had no idea about and sometimes I would think, "Can this possibly be true?" and finally I realized that there was no reason for me to try and tie the names and places in the stories together and that if the stories weren't true, it was not for me to judge. They were good stories.
And long before I figured out that the stories WERE true, back when I was literally dying of anxiety and panic, those afternoons on the porch, just listening to her voice was so soothing. She didn't try to offer suggestions to help me with my anxiety. She just came over and acted like everything was cool, let's have a beer or a cup of tea, and did I ever tell you about the time I went to see B.B. King and there was a gunfight in the street and...
And her voice just soothed the hell out of me.
And then she brought me chickens. Little baby peeps and next thing you know, I was in love with the soothing voices of hens and the proud crow of roosters and it was like a whole new world had been opened up to me. A world that I had no idea I'd needed. A world I so obviously needed.
One of her former coworkers got up and spoke about her. About how she changed the good-ol'boy situation in the department of agriculture she worked in. How she asked him, not long after she became a supervisor, "SO, Charlie, is it true what they say about black men?"
And he was like, "Oh, god. Here we go." And said, "Yes. We are really good at picking cotton," and they laughed and laughed and became good friends forever. He told about how she refused to leave her home on a tiny spit of land on the Gulf when Hurricane Charley came through because she couldn't take all of her dogs, her chickens, her cats, her whatever...to a shelter with her.
I cried and I cried. Kathleen was a conundrum. But here's another thing I said about her- if she did something, she did it with all of her heart and all of her energy and all of her love.
And by god, she did.
Bug got up and gave the most beautiful tribute to her that I've ever heard. It was loving, it was funny. It was true.
And after all of the speeches and stories were given and the last video was shown which was of Kathleen roto-tilling her garden and then grinning hugely and waving, May and I spooned out little bags of her ashes to whoever wanted them. And so many did. And we heard the stories of where people were going to place them. Under camellias, in rivers, on beaches. And so forth.
And when everybody who wanted ashes had gotten some, I licked my finger and dipped it into the bag and took that which stuck to it and rubbed my gum with it.
There could not have been a better tribute, a better day.
And there could not be a better friend than Kathleen was. And I got to hold so many people whom I love and who loved Kathleen to me, tight and hard, my arms and hands clasping them to me.
My heart, fitting them into their spaces, adjusting itself to the rearranged furniture within it.
And my eyes, overfilling with what is in my heart.
And it's good.