If I Had an Instagram

This morning I looked down off the porch and saw the flowers I had tossed out last night.

For many days they had been sitting in a small white pitcher on the windowsill in my bedroom. The white pitcher was made by my former mother-in-law, Marion. I like that when I hold it in my hands I think of Marion making it out of clay that came out of the ground. 

The windows in this old house are up quite high. Or maybe we are down low. The sills are deep. For several days, before the flowers died, I would wake up in the morning and look at them, across the room, up high, backed by the morning sky. There was mint and tulips, grape hyacinth, daffodils and bleeding hearts, all from the gardens in our yard, packed into the little white pitcher. Over their many days there, in captivity, the mint and the tulips grew taller, which is somehow very sweet to me. That cut flowers still grow.

This morning when I brought Daisy out to her green shag rug on the porch, I looked over the side and saw the flowers there where I had flung them. They had landed in a perfect circle, with all the stems pointing inward. I dropped them and they fell into a kind of beautiful formation. 

It made me think of Pick-Up Sticks, one of my favorite childhood games.

If I had an Instagram, I would Instagram the circle of discarded flowers.

Last night while I was walking Daisy through the cemetery I looked over and saw a man on a backhoe digging a grave. The other day I was in the hospital with a woman who was dying and then did die, so I thought it was for her body. I was very curious and wanted to ask the digger lots of questions, but I was too shy to do that, so I waited until his work was done, spying on him from my home. After he drove his big black truck away, I walked over to the grave, without Daisy. 

It was not for the person I knew who died.

I had never seen a dug grave, open and alone in a cemetery at dusk. I was amazed by the perfect lines, the depth. There was a box on one edge of the grave, hidden mostly by dirt and presumably holding the remains of the husband of the woman who had recently died. The gravestone belied as much. 

I sat there for a while, thinking about how this is where it all ends. Whether we are cremated or boxed and buried, we go back into the ground.

On my way out of the cemetery I imagined all of the people people buried there rising up from the ground and having a few hours of being human again. The babies and the young women, the old men. I imagined what they might say: "I loved my red hair." "I wanted to be a doctor." "I lived longer than I thought I would." "I enjoyed fishing in the creek." I imagined each one of them telling part of their story, of who they were when they were alive. And it kind of undid me: the hole in the ground; all the people there who lived and are now dead. 

I Googled the name of the person for whom the hole was dug, later that night. Her birthday is tomorrow. She was a painter. She had a big family. Her mother's name was Mabel. She was almost 90 when she died.

If I had an Instagram I probably wouldn't Instagram the hole in the ground across the street that is awaiting the body of a woman who lived a good and long life.

Amen.