Copyright Lise Liddell
Death has taken another friend. Last night I demanded that time stand still in acknowledgement. At the peak of a Loop 610 overpass on my way to Marianne’s funeral, I stop in the middle lane and shift into park. It is 9:30 am on the coldest day in Houston in decades, and there lies between this concrete bridge and the rubber tires on my 15-year-old Jeep Cherokee, a thin sheen of ice that has seemingly stopped my time, if no one else’s. I sit in silence looking ahead at the white-grey cement as it zooms forward into the same colored sky: I can see no division between the end of the road and the beginning of space. Behind me, the traffic is backed up from only a single lane being open, but rather than the rapid, aggravated energy I usually feel while driving in Houston, there is hesitation and restraint emanating from every driver as cars and Mac trucks creep past me on my right. I know they could follow me into the ice and slide into me, or a truck could fall on top of me, but realizing I can’t control this anymore than I can bring back Marianne, I decide to relax in the silent rest stop the ice has made for me. I roll my window down to smell and taste a rare proclamation of winter that has descended upon this normally steaming urban mecca.
In my rear view mirror I see a policeman, late 20s, 6 feet tall, fair-skinned with cheeks ruddied by the cold, ice-skating towards me in his dark blue uniform and rubber soled shoes. I lean out the window and say, “Don’t get hurt doing that.”
“I won’t,” he says, more to himself than me as he smiles and makes a 360-degree spin. The pistol, handcuffs, baton and teargas tucked into his belt seem absurd in contrast to his childlike glee.
He arrives at my window to apologize. It could be hours before sand trucks show up. I tell him I’m fine and recommend he skate back to his car before he freezes. About 15 minutes later his partner, a 35ish medium height African-American glides over to me.
“I think I can get you out of this,” he says.
“I think I’ll wait for the sand,” I say, afraid to drive on the ice.
“Let’s give it a try,” he says.
He gives me instructions about the break, the gas, and the steering wheel. Now I’m nervous. I do everything wrong until he reaches through the window and steers my car into the working lane while cruising alongside my truck like an Olympic speed skater. When he lets go of the wheel I am off to the funeral.
There is brutality in the fact that life goes on. The night my father died I ate shrimp scampi and drank a French Sancerre. While in Paris, I received news that my friend Diane had died. Two hours later I shopped for sunglasses. Marianne died and I applied mascara and lip-liner before her funeral. Two policemen nudge me out of my frozen time, and I drive away not knowing their names.