The Death Certificate

Almost every day I meet men and women well advanced in years who walk to my desk holding the little blue paper. Perhaps it is me, but I seem to see white knuckles, fingers pressing the little blue scrap, not to let it go. That little blue scrap is a metaphor, the only scrap they have left of the one whose name is written on it. In this case it says, Frieda Fern Wooden, maiden name Mabry. Oh, when it was Mabry! How beautiful she was! She would be 77 this August, that is, before box 33 came. Box 33 is heavy with pain. In this case it’s “Colon Cancer,” for “years.” Maybe this is why I see his face is calm, at peace for once. God knows the last four years have been tulmultuous. Surely the skeptics were wrong, death is very painful. The pain of death is in the waiting for it. Grimly the reaper stood immobile, impassive for years, four to be specific. But now all that remains is the soreness from that pain, the jagged reminders of lost joys in the form of tea cups and Christmas ornaments and blue scraps of paper. Perhaps that’s why he told me not to bother making a copy?

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