I wait in them at Starbucks to order my grande, no-whip hot chocolate.
I wait in them at the grocery store, especially on Saturdays.
My students rush, sometimes pushing and shoving, to be first in them.
At my wedding, I wanted to make sure I said hello to all who came, so I stood in one between the cocktail hour and the dinner buffet.
Last Thursday, I stood in one that I didn’t want to be in and I definitely did not want my friend to be leading.

Last Thursday, I first spent over an hour in a line of traffic on 66 to get to this line. However, as I drove west, the sky put on a brilliant show for me. The first act was a sharp, true-blue sky highlighting the orange fall leaves. Then the whispy clouds danced across, as the sun began to set.The grand finale was the shades of pinks and purples as the sun got lower and lower. This show allowed me to actually enjoy the bumper to bumper traffic. I even thought to myself how the guest of honor, someone I had never met, must have planned such a dazzling sunset for me to enjoy on my drive.

Once I arrived, I couldn’t join the line right away.
I sat in the back row and watched.
The line was at least two dozen long.
Over my shoulder was a TV screen. flashing happy images.
At first I couldn’t see my friend and then I did.
She was chatting, hugging, welcoming each person, one by one, in the line.
Son and daughter standing next to their mother.
Then, the guest of honor, another daughter, lying in her final resting space,
perfectly set just beyond her family.
Once a line member talked to the family, they moved to kneel in front of the guest of honor. Some placed hands together in prayer. Others made a sign of the cross. Many wiped a tear from their eye.

I kept thinking, “This isn’t right…”

Growing up, I stood in such a line on Sundays to receive Communion.
I stood at the front of such a line at my Father’s and Grandma’s funeral.
But today, I sat in the last row, numb, not ever expecting to be in a line, offering a hug to a mom, because her child died.

It’s not the order of how things are to go. 
Yet today it was the order.

Finally, I stood. 
I joined the line, glad it was slow moving.
Finally, my time came.
All I could say was “I’m so sorry” in a whisper.
And I hugged my friend.

My friend from high school.
My college roommate.
My friend who I haven’t connected with since we were both in our 20s.
My friend who shared photos on facebook of her dear, Maggie.
My friend, whose dear Maggie died.
My friend, who would be burying her daughter the next day.

As I drove home in the pitch dark, I continued to feel numb.

Moms give birth.
Moms love their child.
Moms do anything and everything for their child.
Moms aren’t supporse to be around to bury their child.

Or so I thought.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Eileen Smith, people smiling, people sitting and indoor
My friend, Eileen with her daughter, Maggie.

5 thoughts on “Lines

  1. Adrienne says:

    What a beautiful way to pay tribute to a beautiful soul. Although the poem is heart-braking, I love how you use the concept of lines…they connect us in so many ways, right up to the end.


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