The atmosphere sparkled

She asked if anyone had obtained a death receipt. It's not the word she meant to use, but, in that week, words and sights glowed with significance. Death had claimed the body and left us all with a receipt for the corpse. But not for the spirit, for his spirit continued through the complex song of the cardinal that landed on the fence, as if to remind us that the Cardinals had been his favourite team, and appeared in the hat a nephew found on a post at the golf course the day after, a ball cap with the logo of the company where the youngest brother in a large family had worked for thirty-seven years.

The atmosphere sparkled with signs.

During the official mourning rituals - the visitation, the funeral service - a neighbour talked about her father's death. How, after he had breathed his last, she entered the room and found him lying with his mouth open, as if, she said, God had reached right in to take his life away. But where is he, she wondered, and found herself looking for answers on license plates. Tennessee, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania. Then, one day she saw "Kingdom." She didn't explain, but only expressed her satisfaction. Ah, so there her father was.

The safety belt didn't hold. Our brother was ejected from his truck, just as if he'd pressed the up button on an elevator that would rise to the place his pastor described as unknown but wonderful. Maybe it would be like a grand house, with a lake for fishing in front and a golf course out the back door. No one is sure, said the pastor, but if that's what it is, he'll surely be happy there.

In summer I keep the door open for light and circulation and the flowers that splash into view whenever I walk past. This hot year it has been open more than usual, but at an angle meant to discourage birds from flying in. A bird in the house means death is coming, some believe, and I didn't want to extend an invitation, but death in its rudeness burst through anyway. RIP, Jer.