Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Missing Body

I've been thinking about how much we want to see the body, the hands, the feet, and the wound in the side - how Thomas wasn't there when the Christ appeared - how he needed to see the body, to put his fingers there in the wound. It is it all done or will it continue?

When my grandmother died, six days short of 100, she was cremated the day after she died. That was two days before I could arrive to see the hip surgery scar, the beautiful hands that patted my hands, the body that had once offered me the deepest safety, the widest comfort one human being could give a teenage body. I swam in the safety, that love.

I longed, and still do, to say goodbye to those calves that look like mine, the long soft ear lobes to which she crookedly clipped ear rings, the green-brown eyes which I doused for the river of love. I was always searching there, into those eyes.

Where is the body? I need to know if her body still emits love for me.

Now her son, my mother's brother has died. My mom is the last one of that family who ever saw the Zambezi River, the cashew trees in the mission yard, who wore a child’s pith helmet instead of a bonnet. I'm going on Sunday and Monday to help lay his ashes into the earth, the former body of Arthur Leon Arksey. The body left behind is the body of music his children, my cousins will play. Music, his wife, his children, these are what he loved - plus cleaning and organizing.

I'm thinking about another human, Osama bin Laden, whose body we need to see to know if it is over or not. Can you show us some pictures, please? Will his mom and dad, will his children pine for a body? Will they want to see the wound? Will DNA in a jar do?

1 comment:

  1. When my grandfather died he was cremated and I never saw his body. Granted I was young, a pre-adolescent, and I understood cremation, but I can understand the feeling of uncertainty, of fragility, that comes with not seeing a body. I'm happy not to see Bin Laden's body, though. That is something that only a wife, child, parent, sibling should be entitled to see. The last words our bodies hear on this world should not be screams of elation, but the quiet loss of love.