Box and Cross


I'm crying because I can't find Edward. He is in that box, but a box with a cross on top is not Edward; I simply cannot equate this box and cross with Edward.

Edward is a man with his arm around me tight, guiding me around the garden to eat berries. ‘Here,’ he says, ‘this one tastes good: a raspberry.’ And around the garden we go for an hour or so with his arm firmly around me until the cancer tires him. Inside, we sit on matching leather chairs while he rubs his belly and together we watch television.

Edward is a cheeky teenager who hides Americans during the war while people are murdered for doing the same on the next farm. I don't know this Edward, but every day I pass by the framed letter on my wall from Dwight Eisenhower that says this is who Edward is.

Edward is a man who says, ‘I can still Cossack dance!’ and down he goes on his haunches. Edward is also a man who rides a Sunbeam motorcycle with his fiancée on the back. I don’t know this Edward, but his wife blushes as her voice trails off.

Edward is a man holding me tight, hoping I will be good to his son.

Yesterday the watermelon on the mantle looked delicious. Edward would’ve liked it if we sat around the table and ate his watermelon and thought of how he loved fruit: fresh, juicy, sweet, good, honest, clean, dripping, nature, water, earth, sun.

Lydia took the melon down carefully from the mantle and walked out the door carrying it like gold. The round skin spattered with green and orange reflected her wistful face. I watched at the window. She dug in the soft dirt in the garden using her hands as scoops. Then gently, she set the melon in the hole and covered it with dirt. She also knew how much Edward would love that melon and she couldn't bear that thought.

I stand in front of the hole and the box with a cross on top. Anne stands beside me not crying. Next to Anne is Bill, not crying. On the other side of me is George, not crying, and he holds up Lydia. She is not crying. I don't know why it is me standing in the middle in front of the hole – the grave, and I cry like a baby. Not because he’s in there, no, but because I can't find Edward. Like waking in blackness, holding arms out to feel, reaching for what should be there, losing my way. This is how it is when I can't find Edward.

Two months later I marry Edward’s son, but I still can't find Edward, and I can't eat berries without looking for his arms guiding me; I eat berries with a hole in front of me containing a box with a cross on top, and still, I cry like a baby.