One Giant Voice

I was walking up the path to our house, my arms laden with groceries, when the front door swung open. David was standing there, smiling. I thought, “David’s dropped in for a visit!”

Then I remembered. David was dead. He’d been dead nearly six years. I opened my mouth and screamed. I screamed like a madwoman. It was a scream that filled the world. As I screamed, I reached for him and drew him into me. He put his arms around me and the screaming stopped. “Hi, Mom,” he said, holding on to me as tightly as I held on to him.

The house was crowded with his friends. Colin was there and Ben and Alex and Chris. They were the ones I recognized. Everyone was just hanging out as if this were perfectly natural. Like David hadn’t been dead for nearly six years.

He stayed close to me, so close. He was smiling. But he was puzzled. “I can’t remember where I’ve been, Mom,” he said. “It’s like I’ve been asleep. I just keep drawing a blank.” I didn’t want to say, David, you’ve been dead all this time. I was afraid the spell would be broken and he would be dead again.

It was foggy in the house, but the sun filtered in. We touched constantly. Not just me touching him, but him touching me. Our shoulders touched, our hands touched, we walked side by side, the length of our bodies constantly in contact.

At one point I looked up at him as he turned to talk to someone. The back of his head was concave. In the hollow were items that his friends had put in the coffin with him: Some band pins, letters, photos. I was the only one who saw it. Everyone else seemed not to notice.

I don’t remember speaking much. I just was aware of his close physical presence and his constant smile. But sometimes the smile would fade and he’d say again, “Mom, I don’t know where I’ve been. I can’t remember.”

That evening we were all going to a punk show. We stepped outside the house. The night was balmy, the sky full of stars. There were cars filled with people everywhere in our little street, all waiting to go with us to the concert. As we stood in the velvety night, a popular punk song began playing. The tune filled the air and all the people started singing, including me. It was like one giant voice. The sound swelled and rose until there was nothing but the music and the people and my son.

I felt, This is where I belong. This is exactly where I am meant to be.