What Happened to Ivy

What Happened to Ivy by Kathy Stinson Read Free Book Online

Book: What Happened to Ivy by Kathy Stinson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kathy Stinson
Tags: disability rights
in a small room until just before the service starts. Filing into the church itself, I can see that the pews are filled with people, but not who they are.
    The minister strides in, his long robe fluttering around his ankles. He clears his throat. “Let us pray.” On either side of me, my parents bow their heads politely. I bow my head, too. My shirt collar chafes my neck.
    How did I ever think having my parents all to myself would be a good thing? Because I never imagined sitting between them in a church, the air muggy and thick with the stink of lilies and gladioli, around a coffin with my sister inside it, that’s how. Riding bikes to the botanical gardens together, maybe, or traveling to see the ancient sites that Dad lectures about at the university. Not like this.
    The minister raises his eyes to the rafters and launches into his sermon.
    “We are – all of us – God’s children. And so, He chooses when our time on Earth shall begin, and when it shall end. Some He leaves on Earth for a long time before calling them to His side, and some – like Ivy Burke – for only a short time.”
    Yeah right. And what if God’s children would rather stay with their real families?
    “God has His reasons for choosing those He does, when He does, unbeknownst to us though these reasons may be. It is a privilege, nonetheless, to be chosen, or to have a loved one chosen.”
    What a crock. And unbeknownst ? What century is this guy from anyway? My parents used to go to this church, years ago, but it must have been a different minister then. This one’s got nothing to say about Ivy that he wouldn’t say about any other dead person. She was much loved. She was a fine person. She will be missed. And there’s more yammering on about ‘a better place’ and ‘life everlasting’ and blah, blah, blah, until finally the service ends and anyone who’d like to ‘pay respects to the family’ is invited back to the house after the burial.
    On the way out of church, I see Hannah and her mom. The little boy I babysit every Tuesday night is here, too, with his mom. I wonder if Will came, if he saw the notice in the paper. Would someone from the seniors’ home have brought him? I haven’t seen him.
    At the cemetery, the minister does an ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ thing and throws a handful of earth down onto the lid of Ivy’s coffin. Ka-thunk . “Dear Lord,” he says, “may Ivy Jasmine Burke rest in peace.”
    It’s a nice idea: Ivy hanging out with the angels, free of all the crap life handed her. Too bad I can’t buy it.
    Trying to make small talk over stupid little sandwiches back at the house is even worse than the service. Neighbors, friends of my parents, and distant relatives who haven’t seen me in years, if ever, either look at me with a creepy mix of curiosity and pity, or else blab on about stupid things as if it doesn’t really matter that Ivy is dead. Snatches of conversation barely register in my brain.
    “You can get them way cheaper at Costco.”
    “They’ll be staying with us right through to the end of the summer.”
    “It’s all re-runs now. I never watch it anymore.”
    Ladies from the church pass trays of disgusting crustless sandwiches full of pickles and mayonnaise and bright red cherries. The bitter smell of coffee in the urn in the kitchen mixed with the sickly sweet smell of the sandwiches practically makes me gag, especially when a fat guy with a mountain of them heaped on his tiny paper plate starts talking with his mouth full. And people thought Ivy was gross.
    When I turn away, a neighbor from down the street is standing at my elbow. “I’m so sorry, David,” she says. “This will be hard on your parents, losing a daughter.” Across the room, my parents are standing shoulder to shoulder, nodding their heads as words of sympathy drip from the mouth of some neighbor who always looked away when I passed her on the street with Ivy. They feel tight, my parents, like they

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