After the story about the one time that you all got caught trying to sneak back into the house. After you laugh so hard that at least one half chewed black eyed pea falls out of your mouth and back onto your paper plate. And now you have the pleasure of eating it again along with the collards, the rice, the roast beef, the macaroni and cheese and the hot water cornbread. And after you have ranted about how good the sweet tea is to everyone at the table, and then ask for more ice and a second glass. More memories are shared of times when it was possible for you to get into “trouble.” Times when all the men were boys and had heads full of thick black hair. Times when the women were girls and full of spirit and curiosity. Girls who lied to get the car keys, came home high, and were beaten severely for it. Now they laugh. We all laugh while we eat peach cobbler, and dump cake, and 7 up cake with the white icing drizzling down the side.
Someone approaches the piano and many voices from the dinner table are lifted in songs devoted to Jesus. And this is fun too. It’s fun to be a part of it even if you don’t feel like singing. Everyone claps. Someone breaks a bottle of Crown Royal out of its signature purple bag and everyone drinks. Some drink more than others. And then folks begins to talk about church. Some went today and some didn’t but everyone is going to go next Sunday—that is decided. And so we’ll all see one another there. And after all the plates are cleared off of the table and all of the gossip has been told. After every picture of every grandchild has been shown. After the baby is hushed up and fed and placed delicately in her car seat. After the first hug, the final hug, and the kiss on the cheek. After you appreciate all of the women and honor their skills in the kitchen. After all of that, at some point while you are walking alone to your car you try really hard not to cry because you realize that he is still dead. For the rest of your life he will be dead. And you drive off feeling too full but so empty, trying to make sense out of all of the confusion.