My mother was a social scientist. My entire life is a series of experiments. For example, Gender Roles as a Function of Gender Specific Toys, and Seven: The Age of Reason? My brother was more often than not a member of the control group, which meant that he did not embark on the tour of wakes and funerals with my mother and me during The Great Longitudinal Study of Death and Dying
"Mom," I said. I was playing with blocks. red and blue. I held the red block up to my pursed lips. "Mom. Are you going to die?" I was five. She looked at me.
"Yes," She said, "But not for a long time." I rubbed the block against my mouth.
"Mom." I said as I reached for the blue. "Mom. Am I going to die?" She pulled the thermometer from the pot roast, holding it up to the light. "Yes. But not for a very long time." Satisfied, I closed my eyes.
"Erin, wake up." It was early. My brother was still asleep, arms flung above his head. My eyelashes grazed my pillow. "Erin," The morning of my first wake. "Erin." My mother pulled a dress over my head, a gray dress with red buttons, a hand me down. Brushed my hair, hard. We ate breakfast quietly. A bagel with Merkt's cheese and a bowl of honey nut cheerios. I sat in the back seat chewing my hair. My sleeves. The front seat was unsafe. The front seat held nothing but a pane of glass between me and the outisde world.