If I could spend today like I wanted to, I would spend it swinging in my hammock and drinking champagne. I would just lie in that soft netting and watch the undersides of the leaves flip back and forth between that dark summer color and that lighter color that I want to call fern. These days I can't tell the difference between the sound of leaves rustling against each other and the sound of the rain falling, but today I can tell, because the sun is out and the big branches are casting shadows across my legs that move up and down down them as if I am being played. Today is one of those days where I want to lie in the grass until the ants start biting and the sky starts falling.
Yesterday I came across a bird dead on the ground. I only noticed it because it was impossibly blue. The wings looked like something that had been painted on, because the rest of it was the color of the dead grass beneath it—its chest, its legs, its little rotting head. I stopped and could have sworn that I saw it breathing. But then I realized it was me—my heart beating behind my eyes or the otherwise imperceptible movement of my lungs expanding as I breathed. The bird, though, was still.
My mother told me that when her father died she had kneeled at his casket to pray—like good fatherless Catholic girls do—and begged him to move. She prayed harder than she ever had that his chest would rise and his eyes would open.
I took a picture of the bird, which felt wrong at the time, like my Uncle bringing a disposable camera into my Aunt's funeral and taking pictures of her body from every possible angle. She was wearing a crushed velvet dress. Her head was bald. Her heart-shaped face looked pointed—beaked—from all the weight she had lost. She was so still she didn't even seem real. Like a statue of her, not really her.
On Monday night when we buried the cat, I carried the box across the yard to the hole we had dug. For a second I put my forehead against the top and listened for her to move.
"I kind of like that the box they put her in looks like a casket," Jamie said, and I agreed. It felt fitting.
It still doesn't feel real. That something that was always there is suddenly not. Throughout the day I have to remind myself that she is gone. I look to the spot in the yard that we pressed flat with our feet and marked with three rocks and still think that I will see her there, still sniffing the grass, still shaded by the leaves.