Posted by: ralpham | November 16, 2011

The visit – A short story (part II)

The visit – A short story (part II)

By Mary Simmonds


I pass rows of graves with headstones garlanded with flowers and eulogies for the dearly departed.

The next row is mine and, as always, I slow down and then do a right turn into the unending sense of loss.

Eight graves float by then I stop at the ninth. Without warning my vision becomes blurred. I blink rapidly and it clears.

Stepping from the path and onto the grass, I move toward the marble headstone, then reach behind it for the little folded camping stool. It’s wet of course, but who cares? I retrace my steps, open out the stool and sit before the headstone of Chris Simmonds, son of Joseph and Mary Simmonds.

I must look pretty silly sitting on a stool in a graveyard, but I’ve been doing it for so long I really don’t care. Anyway I just couldn’t stand in one spot for an hour or so, my bunions would kill me. Oh well, at least the rain’s stopped.

I look around. Yep, almost deserted as usual.

It’s funny, I can never remember what I think about when I’m here. It’s like my mind goes into neutral, but when my old back starts to stiffen up and I look at my watch, I’m always amazed at how long I’ve been sitting here.

As I stare at the mound of earth before me, As always at this time I develop the power to see though the earth and into the coffin. But of course there is no skeleton, instead there’s my son, asleep. He’s about seven years old today and in his bedroom. I gaze down at a face so beautiful it could belong to a girl. My hand, the hand of an old woman, reaches out and smooths the blond curly hair. He stirs but does not wake. I stroke his head again half-hoping he would wake up so I can gather him in my arms and kiss him. Words cannot even come close to expressing the yearning of my heart so I’m not going to try. Loss can only be felt, not conveyed.

As if from another world, someone walks past me. I rouse myself, pick up the flowers at my feet and slowly walk back to the headstone. I go through the weekly ritual of removing the fading lilies, roses and chrysanthemums. I lay them to one side, remove the latest ones from the wrapping paper and carefully arrange them in the pot. When I’m satisfied with the display I wrap the old ones in the paper and place them in the nearby bin.

With the main chore done, I take out a tea-towel from my handbag and wipe the headstone clean. Don’t laugh, I know I must look as mad as a March hare but I guess losing a child must screw you up in one way or another, so you have to me excuse for acting like a crazy old woman.

I return to my seat and fall back into my semi-stupor. It’s as if for six-and-a-half days a week I function normally, but Friday mornings I’m another person in another world, a world of the past, a world where I feel totally complete with the two people I love more than life itself: my husband Joe and my son Chris.

The only difference between them is that one is alive and the other is dead!

Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings.

Bless you all,
Mary Simmonds


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