We drive up the hill out of the Target parking lot listening to the radio. “We have breaking news. Queen Elizabeth has just been pronounced dead.” I look at the time: 10:31 am PDT. I cover my mouth with my hand and my eyes get teary. I look at my husband. He shrugs in a kind of neutral way, as he is not a fan of the monarchy, and he thought of some of the scandals of her life, like Prince Andrew’s criminal sexual behavior, and Prince Charles’ treatment of Diana. But then, as we listened to the commentary from Britain, I saw his face soften, as he felt touched by the Queen’s solid sense of duty through seventy years of service. He also said, “You can’t control the behavior of your adult children.”
I drop my husband off at the house, but I stay in the car to hear about the Queen. She was such a constant presence all of our lives, that her death hit as a shock. What was always there is now gone. My feet seem to float a little off the ground and I am suspended in one place. A place out of time.
I was driving my car from work in 2006 when one of my siblings called to tell me that our mother had died. I took a sharp turn into the driveway of a stranger’s house and parked because my legs, hands, and eyes had to stop. My mother, like the Queen, was the matriarch of our little island. She was a mother to a dozen children, a social activist, a religious believer, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. Always there, devoted and loving.
Whatever plans I had for today have stalled like a car stuck between gears. All I want is to hear about the legacy and personality of Queen Elizabeth. She had compassion. A diplomat at a formal dinner was overwhelmed with grief at what he had seen in war, and couldn’t answer her question, so the Queen offered him biscuits, so he could join her in feeding the corgis under their table. She had a sense of humor. She used her spoon to tap her teacup to music with Paddington Bear in one video, and said, “Let’s go, Mr. Bond” in another video with Daniel Craig.
It was raining and grey In England, when the news announced the passing of the Queen who had reigned for seventy years. People in umbrellas and raincoats arrived to pay their respects. A five-year-old boy placed a bouquet of flowers on a wall near Windsor Castle.
As the flag was lowered to half-mast, the clouds broke, the sun peeked out and a rainbow appeared over Windsor Castle. Maybe when someone has this big of an impact on the world, the world takes a pause and offers broken hearts a prism of color, as a blanket of comfort.