"Am I the Devil?"
Carrie has struggled all her life with psychological problems, but mostly she makes it okay through the day or the week. She has a house, and a bunch of chickens, two dogs who adore her, some rabbits, and a vast tangle of gardens.
She drinks a lot, and is probably no stranger to other forms of self medication. When drunk she can be loud, or very sad, grieving for her lost children and her innocent youth. Today, when she rushed in the door, she said "my friend is dead, she's dead, how can this be?"
Chrissy died a few days ago, at home. Results of the autopsy aren't in yet. Speculation includes drugs; speculation always includes drugs. Chrissy was in her late 40's. Her brilliant little girl--well, the young woman who is her pretty daughter--has been studying this year in Denmark, and as I type is flying home to our community.
I'm so sorry, I told Carrie. I didn't know she was close to you. We talked a while, and Carrie cried and cried. "What is happening to her body?" she asked, and I explained the little I know about such things. In a sudden death there is an autopsy. I told her my own experience with the coroner and the morgue up north is that they are caring and respectful; this body is in good hands.
But Carrie wanted to be beside her friend. The folks at the hospital gave her the phone number of the morgue, and blinded with tears and confusion Carrie went to a local pastor. He's her neighbor, she said, the new guy who just took over one of the Christian churches. She asked if he could help her call, if he could talk to her a while.
He told her no, Chrissy was a devil and so was she.
"Am I the Devil? I'm not the devil, am I? You know." said Carrie. This is when I started to cry, and I took her in my arms, and I told her "No, you are not the devil. I know this with my whole heart. You are a much loved child of this universe, and so is your friend."
"But if I'm not, why would he say I was? Do you know about prayer?"
I told her I didn't know why he'd say that, yes, I know about prayer, and maybe we should consider praying for him, because he is obviously so very far from his Christian teachings.
"I wanted to hit him" said Carrie. "But I didn't hit him."
That's very good, I said.
"Am I the devil because I wanted to hit him?"
No, I said, you are not. And you didn't hit him. I would have wanted to hit him myself, I think.
"There was no blood" she said, going back to what the people at the hospital had told her. "How can there be no blood?"
Well, said I, when my father died, there was no blood; he just took a long last breath and was still, while I held him in my arms. Sometimes it's like that. Remember Samantha? She died at home in her bed on Christmas Eve, when her heart just stopped beating.
"I'm not going to do that, am I?" asked Carrie.
I said no, probably not, though we all do die, finally. Chrissy is okay, I told her.
"She wants us to be okay, I'll bet" said Carrie. I agreed.
"You're sure I'm not the devil?" she asked. Very, very sure, said I, hugging her again as she said goodbye to Champ and went out into the bright November afternoon.