Pain Revisited (written in 1998; about my Mom)

The smell was the first thing you noticed when you walked into the room. It was a bitter antiseptic stench. They had unsuccessfully tried to mask it with powerful candles and spray but under the false sweetness the bitterness still assaulted the senses. No windows could be found therefore, the lighting was dim. Heavily shaded lamps sat in the four corners casting the gloomy half-light on all of the dark furniture.

A large book with the names of the visitors written within meets the people in the entrance. A fainting couch was against one wall. The expensive brocade upholstery was dark forest green and a deep rich burgundy with golden threadwork. It was a modern knock off of an antique design, dark oak and clawed feet. The thick carpet was the exact shade of forest green and spotless. It was the kind of flooring you would expect to find in a high-end furniture gallery. An end table sat beside the couch, small in comparison. A box of Kleenex had been meticulously placed upon it, one pulled out the top waiting for its end.

On the walls you find elaborate wallpaper, the thick kind that begs to be touched. It tied in with the colors to be found throughout. There were three gold-framed pictures, one on each interior wall. The first was an image of Christ’s assent to Heaven. It consisted of pastel shades that contrasted deeply to the darkness in the room. The second picture was an elaborate vase with a wilted bouquet in it, strangely fitting in the environment. The last is from the bible, the Lords Prayer in a fantastic calligraphy.

Beyond all of the permanent fixtures in the room are the things that will soon be gone. There are huge wreaths of flowers with tiny cards attached. The flowers are all fresh cut and beautiful. White mums are the prevalent theme, along with them are hidden reds and baby breath. The names on the cards are mostly unknown; it’s the thought that counts. Then your eyes find it. A deep sapphire blue coffin sits in the center of the far wall, shiny and almost metallic looking. It has a silver plate on its side with engraved images of trees. In the box is pain.

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