Where the Water Is

Where the Water Is

I sit here in the black of night beside the graves of those who came before me. Unfortunately, they left before me too, or I wouldn’t be here lamenting on days past. Both my brothers and my Dad  lay here, beneath the earth.
I remember planning all of these funerals with my Mother. How the funeral directors, glorified salesmen, tried to sell us the most expensive caskets, lead lined with satin pillows, pushing cement and lead lining of the grave on us so the worms and bugs wouldn’t have a meal of our men.

I’d have to admit, I’m not the best of Catholics, but as I understand the premise, when we die, our souls are going elsewhere. We’re saved, providing we’ve been good enough to get through the pearly gates.

I had difficulty looking at my brother’s dead body. Christopher, who died first, was hardest on me. Cerebral Palsy jailed him within his body, unable to say “Hey, how are ya,” and unable to grow up to run, play, learn and unable to ever have a life of his own. I watched him suffer his whole life and I watched him find joy in chocolate birthday cake and family visits to his nursing home. I had to pray beside his dead body with my family at his open casket. When I looked at his unmoving body, I didn’t see him there. It wasn’t just in the absence of breath or movement. He wasn’t there.

David died a few years later. He had A.I.D.S. so the funeral home insisted that he be cremated. That disease ravaged the body of a young, strong, vibrant man who died in the presence of my parents. When I got home, I couldn’t go downstairs to see him, to my mother’s annoyance. I already knew. He wasn’t there. Seeing his broken carcass would do nothing more than make me sick to my stomach over what he had endured. A broken heart was enough.

Seven years later I watched my father deteriorate for a month in the hospital. This time I got to tell him how much I loved and admired him. I got to tell him I was sorry for the times I was a selfish, rotten daughter. I got to say goodbye before they pulled the plug. At that point, the machines were keeping him alive in a clinical sense, but I felt his presence there.

At his funeral I watched his casket from a distance. He wasn’t there. Christopher wasn’t there. David wasn’t there when they burned him to ashes either. None of them are in the ground as the worms and the bugs make a meal of their bodies. Their souls are soaring off in some magnificent journey while we’re here, left to try to make sense of this world, to bury them and try to let them go.

That’s why I come here. To sit by their headstones and talk to them. I know I can talk to them from anywhere. This black night I sit here and almost see their rotting corpses beneath me and their brilliant spirits in flight above. I’m in the middle, but what makes me so different?  I’m alive and so are those spirits of fancy.  The worms and bugs below are alive, and don’t they have a right to a good meal?

Life, even unseen and imagined is around me as I seek a meager understanding of it. As I see it, the only difference between my life and those of the spirits is water. From what I hear a human being is 75% or more water, not unlike the planet we live on. We need at least a few litres a day for good health and energy.

We use it to bath in and to clean most of our things. We use water to cook with and to eat with. Water relaxes us. It calms us as we swim in it and even as we watch it reflect the blue sky. It’s oceans, seas and lakes provide a source of food to us, with all its critters swimming and wriggling around in it. We drink it and we pee it out almost as fast. It feels good as we drink it and even better as we relieve ourselves of it.

We like to talk of how we reinvent ourselves. Nothing reinvents itself with the fluidity of water as its poured into a glass or as it pours itself from a river into a lake or an ocean. Nothing is more immense or more attractive. Even the sky, almost as big if it wasn’t the purveyor of rain that it is. Like God, it is everywhere and in everything. Only the dessert knows different, and is likely the reason hell is often described as burning.

Water is the difference between us and them.


Angels are usually depicted with great wings and pleasant faces. Cerubs pointing darts at peoples, I suppose, because love hurts. Every time I see a movie ghost having a drink it runs through their non-corporeal selves onto the furniture. These guys don’t live here the way we do. They don’t have thirsts to quench. They don’t need to take a shower. They don’t need water.

Do they need love? Do they have jobs to do up there in the heavens? They must, otherwise they’re living the lives of proper house cats and everybody knows they have the brains the size of eggs. Thinking of these brilliant beings soaring the heavens with messages to deliver and papers to file is the only way I can find for it to make any sense. They’re not like us, but maybe we could be a bit more like them.

I sit here by the graves of my boys in the dark of night and I take a swig of beer and I realize I should probably be drinking water. A tear comes to my eye. We even need water to cry, I think, and wonder if the spirits cry. I take another swig of beer and I remember stories of how different religious icons cry. A statue of the Virgin Mary crying blood and even a marble Jesus with true tears.

There’s my proof.

I shed another liberating tear, just because I miss my brothers, my Dad. I shed a tear because the world is so full of uncertainty and duplicity.

When the spirits cry, it’s because of us. When they cry, they have to do it here, on earth, where the water is.

by Linda Laforge


Where the Water is copyright © Linda Laforge.

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