Yesterday was Mother's day, and I wish I had posted something moving and inspirational about her. You all know she was a huge part of my life, the single best influence I had and the strongest guiding force in every way I can think of. I wish I had said those things then, but something came up that left everything else in the dust.
The advance scout unit that found the remains of Patrick and the others came here to return them to us. I didn't want to look, but I had to.
Funny thing, though...
Pat was, at that point, mostly a skeleton. Big and missing a hand, and at first looking at his body was not the same as looking at a zombie. In every important way they are identical; dead people (except one moves and the other doesn't) who have moved on from the world. I forced myself to be in the room as Gabrielle systematically took him apart, examining him in the process. We don't have a lot of free space for graves--mostly our people get cremated--but Pat's daughter should have a place she can visit, even if only a plot the size of a few shoe boxes where his bones can rest.
Oh, the funny part. Right. Pat's hand was gone, yes, but you may remember me telling the story about the time he was stabbed a whole bunch. If not, a short refresher: he was working in a gas station and got robbed, stabbed thirty or forty-something times, and rose up like some bloody spirit of vengeance to scare the shit out of the men who attacked him. He always laughed about it despite the obvious difficulty he had with the memories.
Once he even gave me a detailed list of the worst stab wounds. The scar on his face was the most obvious and thus got the most time dedicated to it. As I looked down on those bones, the first thing that came to mind was that I could see the jawbone perfectly. Clean as a whistle, you might say. Pat told me more than once that the steak knife--who the fuck uses a steak knife to rob a place, anyway?--was one of those thick ones with heavy serrations on the edge. That he felt it grind against his jawbone as it went through his cheek.
Deep enough to leave a furrow. Obviously that kind of thing might not be visible to the naked eye, so out of morbid curiosity I asked Gabby to fire up the old portable X-ray machine and take a snapshot. If nothing else it would make a dark (and amusing) picture to share with people who knew him. The kind of thing Pat himself was known for. Might be hard to understand if you didn't know him personally, but it fits.
Here's an interesting fact about bones and X-rays: once a bone heals from a break or really any sort of damage, the healed part comes in more dense than the area around it. X-rays work by differentiating densities of materials, so no matter how old the damage it's always obvious in the light of radioactive pictures.
The part that made me giggle? There was no sign of that furrow in the jawbone of that body. Not so much as a graze.
Interesting, don't you think?