Donna – A Cats Cry

The morning of the wake I sat in the cool shade of the front porch and wrote Donna a three page letter.  I found lavender stationary in the den, the type with lines across it for kids and old people who can’t write straight.

It was a sticky Maryland summer, the kind where the gnats drive you crazy buzzing in your ears, but the flowers blooming make up for it.

My letter began with this:  “Dear Donna, I’m sorry I didn’t let you use my cosmetic case when you went on your trip.  I feel bad that the last time I ever saw you we had a fight.”

Three pages later it ended with “I’m going to miss you so bad.  Mom will too.  I don’t know how we’ll live without you.  I love you, Maria

Then I lit a match and burned the letter and placed the ashes in a plastic bag.  I was planning to lay it in her casket for her to keep for eternity.

Proud of my ingenuity, I told my dad what I did.  It was rare for me to tell him anything, because he never spoke to us unless he was yelling.

But I felt that under the circumstances, Donna’s death was bringing us all closer.

He snorted “How is she going to read a letter that’s all ashes?”

I felt stupid.  But still, when we got to Lassahn Funeral Home, I slipped the bag of letter-ashes under her pillow.

Donna died at age 16 in 1976.  There’s a huge collection of poetry she wrote before she died.  This is one:

A CAT’S CRY

A cat’s cry

through  my window

makes me think –

about the many times

that I’ve either

cried for you,

or about you.

And now you’re far away –

just so far away.

The cat stops crying –

but I haven’t.

D. Lehr 9/26/75