Dad went to see Mum for the last time today to say goodbye, so Granddad came to look after me. At first I wasn’t allowed to go to the funeral but then Granddad persuaded him to let me go. Now I’m sitting on the stairs listening to them but I can’t hear everything because Dad’s crying quite a bit. I hear some things though. He asks Granddad what he’s going to do with me. I don’t understand what he means. Does he want to get rid of me? That makes me feel like crying again. I haven’t seen Mum a lot but I miss her when he says things like that.
I want to go in and cuddle him but I just sneak back up to my bedroom and pretend I didn’t hear anything. I sit on my bed and look at some books but I’m not reading them, just looking at the words on the pages. My books don’t have pictures any more. I sit there and when it gets dark I don’t put the lights on.
Later Granddad comes to see me and asks me if I’m all right. He doesn’t say anything about me sitting in the dark. He makes me get my pyjamas on and go to bed. After I brush my teeth he sits beside me on the bed and his big hand holds mine. He tells me I’ll need to look after my Dad. Why? Is Dad getting ill now as well? I nod to him even though I don’t really know what he means, and then he kisses me. This is the first time he’s ever done that or maybe when I was a baby, I don’t remember. When I wake up in the morning Dad is sleeping next to me. Just as well I didn’t wet the bed.
When we get to the church everyone is staring at me and doing fake smiles. I don’t know why people want to smile? Nobody is happy. Aunty Carol takes a hold of me ‘I’ll look after you babe,’ she says and takes me inside. It smells a bit funny in here and it’s really quiet like you’re not allowed to talk because there’s just a few whispers.
I sit between her and my dad. I see my cousins but they are staying at the back the church. Aunty Carol squeezes my hand and doesn’t stop crying. Her eye makeup is going all over her face. The church is freezing and full of people saying how cold it is and my mum is in her coffin up there by the minister. Her picture in a frame is looking out at us all. It’s just her smiling face, looking at me. The minister says lots of nice things about my mum and how her illness was a terrible affliction. I wonder if affliction means cancer because I know people can die from cancer.
I hear someone else crying behind me but I can’t look to see who it is because aunty Carol is holding me really tight. We sing some hymns like at school assembly then they carry Mum out to the graveyard and we all follow behind her. The minister tries to give Dad the photo of Mum that was on top of the coffin but he can’t take it, so Granddad takes it and tucks it under his arm.
The ground beside the grave is all squelchy and there’s a plastic around it. We don’t get too close because the men that are holding the ropes of the coffin are right at the edge. Then the minister speaks again and they lower Mum into the ground. I can’t stop staring at her and when I can’t see the coffin any more I want to go closer and look to see where she’s going but aunty Carol holds me back and when I try to push her arm away she holds me even tighter. I have a ball in my throat and it’s making it a bit sore and I can’t breathe very well and aunty Carol’s fingers are digging into my shoulder and I can hear Dad crying and the minister is saying something but I can’t hear him and Granddad drops Mum’s picture on the ground and she’s looking at the sky. She’s not looking at me, she’s looking up at the sky.