The following is the intro to a novel I’ve just begun, writing only in hopes of healing and working through my own grief. If you enjoy, you’ll be able to read along as I share new chapters on Wattpad.

 

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Grief is such a strange emotion; brings about an array of thoughts, feelings, and actions. No matter how often it crosses your path, you’re never prepared for it’s arrival after a death. Never prepared for the destruction it drags along. Death is such a natural stage of life, yet it never fails to catch you off guard. It never fails to leave you broken and confused, wracking your brain for endless hours over the should haves, would haves, and could haves. Leave you feeling helpless over the didn’t dos and will nevers.

Left me like a deer caught in headlights, though I should have seen the moment coming from the day I walked away, had actually expected it years earlier. And as prepared as I felt I should have been, and in spite of the forever stoic look on my face, it still tore my heart to pieces.

As I look down on my mother, I realize nothing will ever be the same again. And I’ll never get the chance to make amends; I’d wasted all the years I had.

Around me, I could hear the generic sobs of family members and ‘friends’ that had never cared to do more than gossip about the type of wife and mother Michelle White had been in her darker years. Never what she had been when life was filled with sunshine and daisies. I could hear the whispers of false pity and concern, the ‘those poor girls’ and the ‘I am just surprised she last this long’ comments.

Behind me, near the entrance of the church we occupied, I could even hear the snide commentary of the one woman that held a life-long grudge against my mother. Somehow, anything that happened to my mother, even the end of her battle with addiction, was a roundabout result of my father choosing her for his wife. An end result she deserved for stealing a man that had made his own choice. Her words were the nastiest; in the place that taught you not to speak ill of the dead, no less. Women are funny that way, and sad at the same time.

Beside me, holding tight to herself and rocking from side to side was my baby sister. A tiny thing, tears streaming down her pretty brown face with no end in sight. I could tell from the way she jerked away that she did not want me here, or near her for that matter. Though grief stricken too, she is taking it far harder than I and she has not taken well to my sudden reappearance. Feels I don’t truly care, feels I should have stayed away since I walked away when things were the hardest.

And maybe she’s right. I’m at a loss, unsure of what to do.

“Oh, mama. Mama, pleaaaaseee get up, please.”

“Hold on to that baby, it’s the least you can do, Naomi.”

I looked to my right, choosing to ignore my great-aunt as she brushed past me. Just as she would have done to me, my baby sister jerked away and ran out of the church. There were loud gasps, the overzealous cries of the church mothers, the calling of prayers; yet no one went after her. No one truly cared, not more than they had to, just showing face.

I placed my hand atop the bottom half of my mother’s casket, afraid to touch her, afraid that in some way I’d hurt her even more than I had in life. “I’m sorry Mama, for everything.”

“Just the sorriest child she had. Owe Michelle much more than a tired apology, if you ask me.”

I turned to my great aunt, deciding for once that biting my tongue out of respect wouldn’t suffice. “You’re right, Aunt Edna, I did owe her more. Unfortunately, she’s not here anymore and all I have now is a tired apology.  I hope you apologized as well. For the lies you told my father that made him leave, for the rumors you spread around this town about our family, for the abuse you inflicted on Mama in her youth, but especially for introducing her to the crap that killed her. How about you apologize and atone for that.”

With nothing left to say, I turned and walked away. I left to search for my baby sister. If I was nothing else to her, I would be the one true pillar of support. Though I’m unsure of how we’ll make it, we are all we have now.

Lord, help.

2 thoughts on “When Sundown Comes (Intro) by Cortney Joseph

  1. Wow. People, so-called “family” have some nerve. But of course she had to attack, to take the weight off her own guilty conscience. And no matter what anyone says, there’s nothing natural about death.

    Like

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