I could hear snatches of people's conversation around me. Some greeted each other with tears and hugs, others with smiles and hugs.
"Let's get this part over and done with. We gotta do it, so let's just do it."
"Well, that was fast. It's a long line, but it went fast."
It was crammed. I'm pretty sure we violated fire safety laws. I occasionally saw a familiar face of another ex- or current student, and when I could reach them, I gave them hugs, but more often I couldn't, what with my littlest one in my arms and the tide of bodies moving past between us.
I also hoped that I could shuffle my almost 5 year old off to the side so she wouldn't see the body as she has quite the imagination and is prone to nightmares, but the crowd made that impossible... Thankfully, her reaction was that the girl "looked like she was asleep". It was bizarre. Her face was so made up with foundation that I could no longer see the natural adolescent imperfections I had grown to recognize on her skin. Her usually chewed nails were encased in pink, sparkly acrylic. A wig or weave was perched on her head and concealed most of her forehead. That made my cringe inside. Was it concealing more than just her forehead? I have seen enough dead people to know that their flesh just doesn't rest on their bones in quite the same way once the life has left them, and so it didn't really look like she was really sleeping to me... Not really. I was confused by the many feelings I was experiencing. It didn't look like her. And the peaceful, serene look on her face and in the way her hands rested gently on the white bridal gown she would never be married in confused me even more. Of course there'd be no sign of the horror of her last moments. Who'd want to see that? Jesus. But the falseness of it all... As though we were meant to be fooled into thinking she had embraced death like an old friend and that we can all be okay with that... Confused me. She looked beautiful and she looked peaceful and I didn't recognize her.
I was still in a daze when I took my girls home to get dressed up for another kid's birthday party. I saw them in their princess outfits and saw the sleeping princess in my mind. My oldest got chocolate ice cream on her outfit. Again. Another mother nagged at her kid and I thought "oh forget it. Your baby is warm." I didn't bother making much small talk with the other parents.
I checked my Facebook updates and saw that a horde of my favorite colleagues have lost their jobs at our school because of our budget crisis.
I'm going to crack open a bottle of wine, which isn't really needed as my recent- yet persistent-vertigo seems to keep me delicately off kilter at all times... Eat a load of chocolates, which is also not needed as my bottom and thighs may indicate, and watch some TV.
Despite not having suffered a huge loss in my own family and not having my job snatched away from me, I don't feel much like celebrating this bizarre beginning of spring break.
I love my colleagues, I love my kids (those I gave birth to and those I didn't) and I'm sorry there's only so much I can do.