“Can we say one last goodbye? Just the four of us, please.”
The plea came from so deep within his heart that of course we would never have refused him this one small act of homage. He deserved this and she deserved it even more.
The only light came from the stars and the almost full moon as we approached the cemetery gates. But then we saw another glow coming from the flickering of a sole candle, her candle. It moved shadows gently over the pristine white stone of her brand new grave.
“I’m scared, Dad. I don’t know if I can do this.” Our youngest was shivering with apprehension, her eyes bright with a fear we hadn’t known was there.
“Can you do it for your Mamie? And for me. Please.” Her father’s words and voice strengthened her resolve.
We held hands like we had done every day, many years ago, and we pushed open the iron gate and entered as one.
How we did it I will never really know, but we made our way through the aisles, past the headstones, the crosses, the real and the plastic flowers. Past the largest vaults and the tiniest mounds of earth. The single lit candle guided our steps and kept our eyes clear.
Her name, in gold, shone brightly from the pale stone. Recently carved, the letters had seen but one day of sunshine. No raindrops had yet soiled their swirling grooves and gliding curves. They were about to spend their first night outdoors, watching the sky and listening to the darkness. Remembering all the tears spilt only hours before.
And as we stood in silence at the end of the newly closed grave we heard the same sounds – the crickets, the toads, the screeching nocturnal birds. The same salty tears coursed quickly down our cheeks.
For nine long months she had waited patiently to leave the house. Waited for the chestnut tree to be lush and green and large enough to hide her ashes at its feet. Waited for the grass in the field to dry out and welcome her in. Nine whole months sitting quietly above the fireplace until they were ready to let her go.
Finally ready to place the rest of her beneath this stone and wish her one last goodbye.