Contrasts of Reality

Back in mid-October, Ricky flew to Puerto Rico for the funeral of his mother. He took the full event rather hard, breaking down on the phone often while talking to me or to Brendan. I'd be aware of the grief responding in tides, listening to it surge over unexpectedly, swallowing him whole. The death of a close family member is always hard to accept— even when a logical sense tells you to accept and move on with your own circumstances—
So my parents and I took Brendan to a fall festival, a community gathering— keeping the boy occupied so he does not dwell on the absence of one parent—we wandered about in the midday heat of Indian Summer, taking in the expected scenes: booths, bouncy houses, animal exhibits, pumpkin carvings, and balloon creatures. Before we left, Brendan sat for a face painting session, barely moving as the woman carefully stroked silver paint across his forehead and cheeks—recreating him as an alien astronaut, mimicking a seventies glam-rocker with metallic overtones. Later he laughed at himself while looking into a hand mirror. Enjoying the full theatrics.
Contrasts of reality: a funeral. Ceremonial face-painting. Autumnal rites.
She offered to paint my grey whiskers with a neon-red dye. Momentarily pushed me back to the eighties, when Ruth commented on the red tones in my beard, a rust red pine she had said then, smiling.


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