waterhorse By waterhorse, 5th Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Family

A recently separated mother deals with the shock of her husband's tragic death.

Heart shaped pillow

The house was full of people, relatives and friends blurred together in black, navy and grey. Cassandra sat on the sofa sipping coffee in silence while people chatted politely. Melissa, the deceased’s cousin asked “Where is the pillow with the flowers?”
Cassandra straightened up. “Oh no! It’s still in the coffin!” The room fell into silence as everyone looked at Cassandra. “I forgot that Justine was supposed to have the pillow!”
Pastor Vicki, a blonde heavy set woman, started dialing her cell phone. “Hello, this is Pastor Vicki from the Kellman funeral. There was a heart shaped pillow in the coffin with flowers that the widow forgot to give to her daughter….. It’s already sealed? Is it possible to unseal it? She paused. Thank you so much. I’ll be right over to pick it up… You will? Thank you Paul.”
Cassandra wanted to put flowers in the coffin. Someone suggested to her that they get a pillow with flowers pinned to it and that Bill’s daughter get the pillow after the funeral. Overcome by extreme emotion, she inadvertently forgot to get the pillow.

Justine could not get up from the funeral parlor pew to say goodbye to her father who lay in the coffin. Craig kept repeating over and over “I loved him!” It was an emotionally exhausting day. Three nights earlier Cassandra had slept in the bed that she Bill had shared with Justine and Craig, her two children. During the night the children took turns waking up crying and Cassandra put her arms around them until them fell asleep.

The State Trooper

The death was a shock. A state trooper came to the door that Sunday morning at 10 a.m. and asked if he could come inside to talk to Cassandra. She knew it was about Bill but the only thought that came to her head was that he had been arrested. Two weeks earlier, Bill lost his job at the utilities company and went on a drinking binge.
Things got so impossible that Cassandra asked him to leave the house temporarily.
He had been gone a week when the state trooper came to the door.

“Mrs. Kabel?”
“I’m Officer Conway. Can I come in?” Cassandra opened the door. He stared at her shoeless feet.

It had been quite a week. The emotional turmoil they had all gone through. Bill wanted to come back to the house and Cassandra wasn’t ready. She had just spoken to him the night before. He sounded positive. They talked about how he would change. He would treat her and the kids better. They would start a new life.

“Sit down please” the officer said as if it were his house and not hers.
“Do you know Bill Kabel?” the officer asked as he sat on the sofa opposite Cassandra. What kind of a question was that? Of course I know him. I’m his wife. That’s obviously why you’re here.
“Yes. He’s my husband.”
“Were you separated?”
“An order of protection?”
“Yes. Why?”
“Did he drive a 2001 Ford Taurus?”
“Yes. What happened?”
“There’s been a tragic accident.” Cassandra felt the world wobble as it slowly stopped spinning. She looked at the officer. “Is he?...” He was shaking his head yes.
She knew he was dead and even though she heard it, everything felt the same but a lot quieter. The world seemed like an unfamiliar place. She looked at the officer. He appeared very strange to her. Why did they send him of all people?

“Is there someone you can stay with?” the officer asked.
“ I have to call someone” Cassandra heard herself say as she went to the phone. She stopped. Who do I call and what do I say?
“Maybe we should just go over there” said the officer.
“My kids are upstairs.” She started to walk up the stairs quickly. The officer followed. “Craig! Justine!” She found the children already at the top of the stairs as if they knew something had happened. They looked at her. She put her arms around them and said. “Something happened. Did you hear?” How do you tell them? A fourteen year old girl and a nine year old boy. They waited for an answer. The officer stared at all of them.

“Daddy’s dead.” All at once the three of them started crying as they stood in a circle with their arms around each other. The children asked nothing. Finally Cassandra looked up. She saw the officer peeking into Justine’s room.

“Would you like to go now?” the officer asked. His face had not changed expression since he entered the house.
“Yes.” They followed the officer to his car still crying.
“Where are we going?” said Officer Conway.
“To his uncle’s house in Tryak”.
“Whats the address?”
“I don’t know. It’s across the street from the hospital.”
“What is his name?” He looked at her like she was from another planet.
“Donald Etelson”.

The state trooper talked into his radio “I need the address of Donald Etelson in Tryak.” Cassandra looked behind her. Justine and Craig stared ahead in the back seat. Both were sobbing. She sobbed along with them.
“I didn’t think anything else could happen to us after the week we had. And now this….” The officer looked at her with the same expression and said nothing.
“Bill lost his job, he moved out of the house and now……”
They pulled into Uncle Donald’s driveway. The state trooper knocked on the door. Uncle Donald answered it. “Cassandra?”
“Bill died.”
“What? …. Come on in.” As Cassandra and the children walked inside the house, Uncle Donald spoke with the officer. She heard Officer Conway talk about the exact location on the highway Bill died on. She heard him say the car crashed into a tree off the highway and the car flipped over. She processed the information while she and the children sat on Uncle Donald’s sofa in shocked silence.

Beautiful flower

Uncle Donald was there now at her house talking to his sister who was sobbing. So were Bill’s parents who had flown in from California. Cassandra’s mother-in-law seemed annoyed with her. She heard her say “Cassandra doesn’t know how to make coffee. I’ll make it.” Later on she said “I thought it was terrible the way the casket was open during the funeral.” Differences in religion. Bill’s parents were Jewish, although not religious. Cassandra and the kids wanted an open casket. She had asked her in-laws if they had any concerns regarding the funeral. Her mother-in-law had said no.
“It doesn’t matter. If you want to give him a non-denominational funeral that’s o.k. with us.” The real concern wasn’t the kind of funeral. It was the blame her mother-in-law put on Cassandra for Bill’s death. She had to blame someone.

Pastor Vicki had done a good job not stressing religion during the funeral. It was a tragic, sudden accidental death and everyone attending was in a deep state of shock.
The doorbell rang. Cassandra got up to get the door. It was Paul the funeral director carrying the pillow. Paul had gone to school with Bill.
“Thank you.” Cassandra took the pillow and sat back down on the sofa. It was the same sofa she had sat on when the state trooper told her about Bill’s death. She looked at the white heart satin pillow. Blue Forget-me-nots were pinned to it. It was a beautiful five-petalled flower.

Finally at peace

When Bill’s ashes were finally put to rest in the cemetery behind Cassandra’s church, the blue forget-me-nots were placed on the ground where the ashes lay. Justine kept her pillow on her bed in her room. Each of the children had a framed picture of their father sitting in front of a lake with swans swimming behind him. It was such a peaceful picture. Bill had been a man who was never really at peace. Battles with alcohol and insecurity engulfed his life. His pain spilled over to his family and everyone who cared about him. The final failure of losing a job and hurting his family again drove him over the edge. Despite his problems he would never be forgotten by anyone who knew him and loved him.


Car Accident, Death, Death Of Loved One, Funeral Service, Grief, Widow

Meet the author

author avatar waterhorse
I am a middle aged woman recently engaged with a BA in Human Services. My passion is writing. I have a Storytelling Group on Facebook with 48 members. I write about philosophy and psychology mostly.

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author avatar Gethtml css
5th Nov 2013 (#)


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author avatar waterhorse
5th Nov 2013 (#)

Thank you.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
9th Nov 2013 (#)

Sorry for the loss, know what it is like when tragedy strikes. Its like the world falls on you and you are just too shocked to cry as it starts with learning of the death, identification of the body, completing the formalities post mortem, waiting for body release and then getting funeral arrangements etc. The hardest part is not when the body is around but the day after it is buried or cremated as that is when the true fact of death actually hits you and you start to cry and you are never the same after this.
Funnily LoverMe wrote about Fordism around the same time you wrote this. Never buy Fords if they are made in South Africa and they are high maintenance cars any way.

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