Tuesday the sky was blue, the air full of spring and colour. The night before, I had danced late into the night with the promise of you, the memory of you, and then I sat down and I had a little laugh and a little cry. Tom Waits 'Old 55' played on repeat.
We walked, holding hands, up to the funeral home. We were early, my doing, because I needed to see you, my sweet little Fang. Just to make sure that the right baby, MY baby had been returned. And you had been. You were nestled so sweetly in the casket, it took my breath away. I turned to your father, a taller, sturdier version of you -- like an imprint, really -- and whispered 'Can we take him home now?' A moment of madness, of hysteria bubbling, welling up.
We return to the office to wait. I notice brochures embossed with the word Batesville and I my brow furrows. My brow furrows more. Batesville? Like Batesville, Mississippi Batesville? Batesville Casket Company Batesville? I know the place. Idly, I pick one up. It is the same Batesville, down the road from Oxford and I shake my head. Mississippi, my love, creeps into the oddest places.
We are ushered into a black limousine. You are put between us. We hold hands. The car moves slowly down the road. Slowly, passed the school, and the green, through this place where we live. Sunlight dapples through the trees. We turn into the Cemetery, with its beautifully cultivated lawns, its carefully tended borders. The car stops seamlessly outside the chapel. Your name is written in italics on the schedule for the day: 'Baby James Robert Radcliffe-Binnington, 10:30am.' Your dad smiles sadly 'We've been hyphenated,' he says. The whole outing has taken 45 minutes.
We spend the rest of the afternoon being terrifically gentle with one another. We fall asleep holding hands, talking about your smell and your little feet.