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Cardinal Sins Journal vol. 41 Fall 2021

Shroud of the Father


     He lay there. Still.

     We couldn’t take our eyes off him.

     We cared for him—the wife, sons and daughter. We became the adults, he the needing child. We fed, clothed and even bathed him. We marveled how disease transformed simple, everyday tasks into procedures that required great care and preparation. Foods cut fine to swallow, medicines reviewed and allocated, his body anointed by our hands. We each had different histories and relationships with him, but we united in a common purpose—Salvation.

     They pulled up outside our home and hauled in a metal gurney. The wheels clanked against the wooden floor. They lifted him to it. It was our last chance to view him. Then they wrapped him in a shroud. Larger than life in life, but now he looked small and fragile—not a man, but a thing. Some-thing that gets wrapped up in a cloth and taken away. The door creaked open and closed—whisked away. Except for the faint smell of antiseptic, a new emptiness filled the room. Only an uncomfortable, numbing silence remained. Our hard work to maintain the old order was left wanting. He was gone, just a whisper of what he once was.

     We never spoke of that moment, of that day. We all experienced it, but it wasn’t the same for any of us.

     The Shroud of the Father insulates you from the cold of death for a time, but soon its warmth fades and you are left alone in darkness with your grief.

Outside the Rain Falls

     In this one you are almost smiling. Filled with hope and promise, but not fully developed. A day that will create a canvas for all to come.

     Your white lace gown flows to the floor. Your veil cascades behind you and frames your short dark hair. Young and inexperienced, but you look regal.

     Just the two of you, holding a single bouquet of white lilies. Everything fades white against a pale blue background.

     Beyond your focus awaits old family and new. An urban cocktail of immigrants of different religions and traditions. What will come of this concoction? Of course, you don’t know, but you are innocent and deserving and that is enough.

     Outside, the rain falls in heavy sheets, but you remain insulated from it. Caught in a moment—a time where everything you desire can be realized. At peace in the not knowing and, most importantly, in Love.

(Originally published in print by Saginaw Valley State University)

Notebook and Pen
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