I am wearing high heels because I think this sends the right signal. It is important to me that others know I am the one who is keeping shit from falling apart.
Good hosts should greet their guests, so I am standing near the guestbook as people walk into the room. I try to corral my father, but he is all over the place. He is pulling people to the casket—nearly shoving them inside. He is in the hallway laughing. He is in the kitchen eating. He is sitting in the 4th row of pews chatting.
The interest in me is minimal. The widow is supposed to be the star of this show, but she is too sick to be here. So instead they zone in on the only son and he takes center stage.
It seems I have tapped into a place in which no one wears black to a funeral home. Initially I am appalled, but soon my feelings shift to surprise when a lady shows up wearing a nice black dress and heels. Then I realize she is high, probably on meth, and we are back to square one.
The 4-H rabbit club shows up and I know it is because they loved him.
I rock back and forth—heel to toe—heel to toe. I shift my weight to one leg and then back to the other and the back yet again to the original leg—and so on, and so on. I do not regain full feeling in the heels of my feet for nearly a week.
~ * ~
Two months later I am in ballet flats at her funeral. I have watched my person die—slowly, then all at once. I was alone with her and holding her hand. I sat in her room with her body for two hours with the smell of death. I kept cracking open the hospital room only to have the nurses continuously shut it.
My father is less energetic this time. I can understand the feeling of relief because I feel it too. I cannot relate to the anger or the hurt. Their love for me does not translate into disdain for him, but he cannot understand that just yet.
The 4-H rabbit club walks in wearing their matching county fair t-shirts and it is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen because I know they love me.
I still have the sweater I was wearing when she died. It still faintly smells like death. The ballet flats have lived a well-loved life. But the heels—the heels I have thrown away.
Previously published in Word Riot.
Kelly Flynn is an MFA student at Butler University in Indianapolis, where she reads for Booth. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Word Riot and Natural Bridge. She is the facilitator of a spring and fall speaker series in central Indiana. Kelly has maintained a herd of show rabbits since childhood and travels the country showing and judging rabbits in her spare time. Find her on twitter @iamkellyflynn.