Everything is gray. The sky, draped low like a blanket over you, is gray. The rain, which could’ve been landing like dust in the wind, or like iron anvils (you wouldn’t have noticed either way), is gray. The people, still as statues in this deluge, are gray. The casket, carried with sad dignity to its final resting place, is gray. Your soul, with pieces torn off from it, is gray.
This is your world now, you decide. A gray world; where nothing lives so much as it just exists. Where nothing is joyful, as much as it just is.
Your world is gray.
You are gray.
The sun is shining today, the birds are singing and the throng of people gathered inside this church are cheering and weeping with joy. But none of that registers with you. Right now, you could be in the middle of a war, with bullets flashing inches from your face, and you wouldn’t have noticed. Right now, you could be in the darkest part of space, floating in an endless void, and you would never have realized it.
Because today, at this moment, you’re busy kissing the most beautiful woman in the world. Because amidst it all, the songs and tears and hoots and hollers, your ears still ring with those two beautiful words, I do.
It is silent; a silence bred of sterile, white walls and thorny knots of dread. You sit there, clinging vainly to your wife, your love; as if such physical contact can protect the two of you from the news you both know is coming.
The door opens, and the news walks in, this time in the form of a haggard young doctor, lines of sadness and worry running across his face as he watches you both in equal parts cold precision and crushing guilt.
And then he says the words you knew would come.
And you feel your love stiffen in dawning sorrow.
And you hear your world crumble apart.
And though you don’t see it, outside in the sky, the sun hides itself behind a thunderhead, as if in grief.
There are five things in the graveyard at this moment:
- A shining new tombstone.
- A broken mess of poorly-drawn lines.
- A mangled, wretched howl.
The tombstone is in front of you, and the howl is coming from the mess of lines, and the mess of lines is cursing God, and you are that mess of lines, the howl is the verdict that God should be that mess of lines instead, because what has He done in His divine might to stop that new tombstone from being put into the ground, and what has He done to help you from becoming these poorly-drawn lines, and why should He be allowed to sit atop His lofty heights and watch you wallow in your own vain howls of rage, and why is she gone?
Because that’s the question, isn’t it?
You never thought that tea could taste so good right now, even if its bitterness make your uvula dance in your throat and force your stomach to keep the vile mixture down. Of course, you never had such a good reason to have this drink before; the most beautiful woman in the world has never asked you to join her before.
You would’ve been a fool not to accept the invitation, but now that you’re here, it dawns on you just how outclassed you are. This must be some kind of cosmic joke; a hope spot to make the moment when fate yanks the rug out from under you all the more painful. Why in the world would a woman like that ask a guy like you over?
But nothing bad happens, nothing goes wrong. God doesn’t pull out the rug, the celestial laugh track doesn’t open up. Everything’s good, except for the tea.
But that’s a small price to pay.
The light is dusty and yellow in the kitchen; grief and worry clog the room like unwanted house guests. You and your love sit across from each other, across the dining room table, across three feet of air, across the plains of eternity. Resignation has fallen over both of you like tailored cloaks, and the only thing to do now is to ask that final question, so daunting in its simplicity.
You turn your head and realize that the most wonderful little girl in the world, your little girl, is asking if you’d like to play tea party. You pause, because that’s been your signature reaction these past weeks, and then say that yes, you’d love to play tea party with her.
She grins, and you realize that that’s the first grin you’ve seen in a while. And then you grin back, knowing that this is the first time that you’ve grinned in a while. You follow your most wonderful little girl away, looking forward to some tea, imaginary or otherwise.
And though you don’t see it, outside in the sky, the sun peeks back out from behind the clouds.