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A girl goes to pay her respects, and finds and unlikely friend along the way

Submitted:Mar 6, 2013    Reads: 15    Comments: 2    Likes: 5   

Here lies:

Paul Gilliam


Loving Father and Husband

may Eternity welcome

you with open arms.

I stare hard at the gravestone. Could it have been so recently that he was gone? It has to have been years. The sun makes me shiver, I don't want its light right now.
Tears well in my eyes, and angrily I wipe them away. They always spring up just when I need to be strong, its quite annoying actually. I see one drop on the green grass, with fresh flowers growing all around the gravestone.

This is not how visiting a graveyard should be, the flowers in that state of being perfectly bloomed, with the warm rays of sun inviting children to play together, everyone feels alive. He's not, he never will be again and I can never see him in this life. While everyone laughs and sings and plays and dances and lives...

I close my eyes and feel more tears down my face. I need to go.

I take a big breath to steady my nerves. My mom thinks I'm spending time with my friends. I was going to, really, but I just didn't feel like it. I tear my eyes away and start towards my car...

Someone is standing just a few feet away. She has light gray hair around a wrinkled face and spidery purple veins on white hands. She has such tattered rags for clothes I can only assume she is homeless. Her cataract-ridden eyes stare almost blankly at an empty tombstone.

I guess I should feel sorry for her, but I just felt really angry all of a sudden. She probably bums out here, and that seems really disrespectful to me.

"Hey!" I yell, trying to be nice as possible, but I still sound full of venom. She makes no move she heard me and continues to stare blankly at the tombstone. My mouth tastes like bile as I storm at her, careful not to step on the graves.

I snap my fingers in front of her face, She blinks violently and stares at me like a lost puppy.

"Scuse me? I think you should find somewhere else to stay. People are trying to pay their respects." I shouldn't have been so mean to her, I know. I was just so angry for some reason.

"What?" She stares confusedly at the gravestone and back to me.

"I think you should respect the dead here and leave." I say curtly.

But then she does something that catches me off guard, tears start to swell in her eyes, and she turns her face away from me to hide.

"I'm sorry." She whimpers, her voice shaking with sobs. "I just don't have a grave for my husband, being homeless and all. I just go to the empty graves and try to pretend that its him. I didn't mean to bother anybody. Or be disrespectful. Please don't call the police on me, I'll leave."

I felt like the worst person in the world. I watched helplessly as she trundled away sadly, wiping her face on her dirty sleeve. I didn't know what to say. I fumbled in my purse to see if I had any money to give her.

"Wait! Wait, I have twenty dollars if you want it!" She kept going, so I pursued her.

"Wait, I am so sorry, I didn't know. Please take this." I tried to force it into her hand, but she kept turning me away, keeping her head down and trying to get past me.

"Is there anything I can do for you? Please, I feel horrible." She stayed still for a minute, so I took the chance to make amends.

"My father died a few weeks ago, I was just so angry. I know there's no excuse for what I said though. I just hadn't- I guess I just had so much anger, I had to let it out. You were just the first person to put me off in a while, so I expended my anger on you." We both stood still for a moment, Then she finally looked up at me.

She tried on a shaky smile. She gave a little chuckle, "I, I know what you feel. I felt it when Bruce died. How I couldn't pay for a funeral or anything, so I just cremated him. Someone stole the vase he was in, I spent the rest of my money on that. They scattered the ashes. I just came here because, well, I have nowhere else to go." She started to cry again. "I'm sorry, I'm just being silly, I won't bother you anymore." Again she tried to get past me.

"No, please you aren't bothering me at all." I grasped her hand firmly but gently, she felt cold as ice. "Would you like to sit with me?" I pointed to one of the benches in the graveyard that was closest to us.

She sniffed, and gave a genuine smile this time. "I would very much like that, young lady. What's your name, may I ask?" I began to lead her gently towards the bench.

"Cassie, and you?" I said.

" I'm Meredith. Nice to meet you Cassie." I looked thoughtfully at her kind, old face. I smiled brightly for the first time in weeks. Finally we got to the bench, right in the sun.

I was glad for it this time.


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