Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station, has an essay on the amazing site The Rumpus today. Here is an excerpt:
What the dead leave behind: Questions. And boxes of things. And hair, cut off hair tightly wrapped into rubber bands. And pictures of drunk ex-lovers. They leave behind socks, bodies, skin, recipes for guacamole (always good served with potatoe1 chips or corn chips.)
They leave behind: photographs of Burt from Sesame Street smoking a cigarette and holding a bottle of booze, a Barbie doll spread eagle in his face, an open shirt and a loose tie. My father took that picture. He set my Burnie doll up (I called him Burnie because I didn’t know if he was Burt or Ernie from Sesame Street, but looking at the picture I can now see it’s Burt) like that in what I now think may have been a self-portrait. So the dead leave portraits of themselves.
What the dead leave behind: doughnuts. I remember the morning my father died. I walked into the kitchen and thought doughnuts and also: bodies.
A memory she had:
There are so many bodies. The kitchen is filled with adults, many of whom she recognizes. The neighbor Blanche who loves across the street with her blind dog Pepper eats a jelly filled doughnut. Purple on her face.
“Here, have one,” she offers the girl. The girl declines. Everyone is handing her a doughnut.
She spent the night counting on her fingers until the sun came up.
1) I won’t be bad anymore
2) If my daddy comes home I won’t be bad anymore
3) If my dad comes home I’ll be good
Until the light came into her room and she knew the dark wouldn’t swallow her.
The signal that Something Very Bad Happened were the Dunkin’ Doughnuts and Munchkins all over the counters and the powdered sugar glistening in the July air like tiny sugar fairies. The girl swore there were hundreds.
Her mother never let them eat doughnuts so she knew that Something Very Bad Happened.
“Here. Have a doughnut.” No.
“Sit down.” I don’t want to.
“Your father died.” I know.
She did know. She knew the moment his heart stopped. She’d been jumping on the sofa-her aunt pleading her to come down- and the moment her father’s heart stopped, she stayed in the air a little longer.
She landed and knew.
“Your father died.” I don’t care.
The girl is me.
The girl is you.
That’s who the dead leave behind: us.