You will return to the land in the morning.
No later then 12 noon, because those are the rules.
Tonight they screwed the lid to your coffin on, thus concealing you from the human world forever.
This is always the hardest time for the whanau, those last moments with your body, those final glimpses of your face, the last time your 3 remaining sisters get to kiss you and your 8 remaining brothers get to scold you – with your skin, your bones, present.
I hope Heni was there to see your face one last time, she loved you so much. I remember witnessing arguments between the two of you about who was the baby.
Everyone knew that you were the baby.
But even after your passing as I spoke to my devastated Aunt, your sister, mere minutes after I got word of your death, she said to me “we were both the baby, he was the baby boy and I was the baby girl.”
But you were the baby, Te Iwiroa.
We all knew that.
We buried the eldest 6 years ago. And now we are to bury you, in the morning, before noon, because those are the rules.
Except I won’t be there this time around.
I wasn’t there to bury your sister last year – who liked to be called Kylie, but whom I always called Paddy.
And I won’t be there to see them carry you out of the shed at ‘Nan’s’ – even though you lived there for so long, that house will always be Nanny’s to me.
The whare of secrets. Nanny’s house.
I won’t see them load you into the vehicle, or perhaps they will put you on the back of Granddads work truck, I will never know unless I ask, because like I said I won’t be there, this time around. I won’t see my father and his brothers and sisters, your brothers and sisters carry you from the vehicle to your plot next to my Nan, I won’t see your wife in turmoil follow you, in a box, carried by your brothers, sisters, nephews or cousins and a large part of me is glad.
Once your lid was screwed on, My father, his brothers, perhaps their sons will have left Nanny’s for the urupa, regardless of the weather, they would have put on their gumboots, loaded the trucks with shovels and headed for the cemetery.
To be continued…