promises kept

I have a pact with my sister. I promised her that I would make sure she was wearing lipstick when she dies.

Not literally at the moment when she dies, but when she is lying in her casket. Everyone will be there to see her she says. She is concerned about having colorless lips after she dies.

My sister carries a tube of lipstick in her pocket—at all times. We recently went to the Mistletoe Market in Hahira and she paid an ungodly amount of money for a tube of lipstick. I wouldn’t buy it, although I was searching for lip color at the time. “Too much money,” I said.

“Well, it’s more important to me than it is too you,” she tells me. Then, she reminds me of our pact. “Make sure it is one of my colors, too. You know, a color that I would wear.”

It’s one of those things that only sisters can share—the need to look your best even in death. And it’s one of those promises you must fulfill. No matter what.

We didn’t pinky-finger our pact, but I know I have to live up to my promise. And I will.

We kind of did that for our mother, who had an unusual obsession with Carmex lip balm. When she moved from her home to Langdale Hospice House, I packed up her house and moved her belongings to mine. I found an unbelievable amount of Carmex in her apartment. When I say unbelievable—she had started buying it in bulk—I uncovered a carton of Carmex from under her bed.

At her funeral home viewing, we gathered beside her casket. I pulled out a tub of Carmex and slowly opened her fingers. I placed the tub in her hand and folded the fingers back. Even though she didn’t ask to take her Carmex with her, we felt it fitting.

Now, Mama could smooth Carmex on her lips in eternity.

I don’t need lipstick nor Carmex on my eternal journey. I figure I’ll look the best I’ve ever looked when I’m in heaven—like a real Princess or an Angel—you know one of the glamour shot portraits taken with a soft lens. Maybe I’ll have that airbrushed look—like Oprah on the cover of her magazines. And I really don’t care what my carcass looks like here on earth. I’m vain. But I don’t plan to be vain in death.

I’m not going to do the open casket thing either. I’m going to do something a little unconventional for a God-Fearing-Southern-Baptist-Turned-Catholic. I’m going to be cremated, so I am not concerned about my appearance. I won’t have a family viewing or anything like that.

And I want my ashes scattered somewhere memorable—somewhere important to me. Right now, I don’t know the location because I can’t decide. The one place that I truly loved was a farm I lived on with a man who is no longer my spouse. I don’t think he would want my ashes settling down on his family homestead—or then again, maybe he wouldn’t care.

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Constance Camille
Writer, Poet, and Photographer who craves words, and people who love words, Constance Camille hangs her hat somewhere in Florida with her three Volpino Italiani doggies where she writes fiction, creative nonfiction, and a good poem when she’s in the mood. Her idea of heaven is a picnic and a good book. A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in English-Creative Writing, she recently completed her poetry chapbook "Other Shiny Things" and her story "The Forger" recently appeared in "The Write Stuff Anthology." She also serves as a submissions reader for the Florida based literary journal "Longleaf Review."


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