He stumbled, just for a moment. On what, he wasn't sure, and he couldn't bring himself to care. An arm reached out, ready to steady him and for a second he forgot, and let himself grab it. The hand was soft, but those fingers too long, and when he looked down he could see they belonged to his daughter. He flinched, forcing himself not to pull away, not to hurt her feelings. But those were the wrong hands. He didn't want any other hands.
Slowly he made his way up the hill, his son and daughter hovering at either side of him. Why, oh why did they have to be here for this? He knew it was their right, they needed it too. But oh, how he needed silence right now, a last moment with her, in their special place.
The wind rushed through the long grass, almost flattening it, and his mind took him back to this exact spot, nearly 50 years ago. The first time he'd laid down a picnic blanket, and held his hand out to hers. The awe as she smiled, and placed her hand in his, and sat down before him. His nervousness, trying to decide just how close to her he could sit.
Just a couple of months later with a chill in the air and both of them bundled up in coats and gloves, in a halting whisper, he'd told her he loved her. Her eyes shone as she threw her arms around him, laughing as she returned the sentiment. She wasn't nearly as nervous as him, it was as though she already knew. She probably did. She always knew him better than he knew himself, always seemed to be a step ahead of him, especially in matters of the heart.
The spring came, bringing with it wildflowers and diamonds, promises of forever. Another blanket, carving out a flat spot for them within the tall grass, and they had made love for the first time. Still, decades later, the best day of his life. So much love, so much joy, so much to look forward to.
They'd been wed in a church, of course, though both had fought for this very spot, so sacred to them both. Hair blowing in the wind, the tall grass bending to it's will, the ocean below them. But this spot remained 'theirs'. This was the place they declared their love, consecrated it and they had come back here, year after year, bringing with them children and grandchildren.
And now, here he was. Joints protesting the walk up the hill, body oh so changed from the first time he'd come here with her. The town below them had changed over the years, but this spot had remained untouched.
His eyes narrowed in surprise as he spotted a lonely wooden bench, perched at the top of their hill. He and Sarah had been here just 2 years ago, for their 45th wedding anniversary, and this had not been there. He bristled at the thought of someone else being here, and his heart broke at the thought of this place changing.
But of course it had changed. Would be forever changed. What good was it without her here to share it. He stopped, suddenly sure he didn't want to do this anymore. He couldnt' do it if their hill had changed. It felt wrong. He clutched the small vessel to his chest and felt tears pricking his eyes. His son placed a hand on his shoulder, willing him forward. "Just look, Dad". He'd never wanted to run away from anything more in his life.
A few more steps, and they were standing behind the bench. There was a small plaque.
Sarah Alice Gorman
1940 - 2009
Who so loves believes the impossible.
He stared, his brain unable to grasp what was before him. He looked up at his son and daughter. How?
"We finally got it up here a few weeks ago. She wanted it, for you. She wanted you to sit here, after she was gone. To sit with her. She said she knew you'd come, and she didn't want you on the ground", his daughter's chuckle matched his own. That was so...Sarah. Always a step ahead. Always thinking of him.
His trembling fingers traced her name and the quote, her favourite. It was perfect. Or as perfect as anything could be once you'd lost the love of your life. He'd woken every morning since she'd died last winter, just wishing he could have gone with her. Wondered how long he'd have to wait to be with her once more. And now, today, a year to the day since she'd left them, he had to somehow scatter her ashes, let the wind take her away from him yet again. He couldn't imagine actually letting her slip through his fingers that way, having no part of her left.
"Why don't you just sit a while, Dad. We don't have to do this right away". He nodded, clutching the urn, and sat on her bench. The bench that would bear her name forever, long after he'd joined his love again.
He sat that way, listening to the wind, watching the water below. Lost in memories. His daughter pressed a button, and suddenly Billie Holiday was crooning their song.
His eyes closed. He let the tears fall, tracing their way down the lines on his face.
Here. Now. In this place. To this song. It was time.
(The Muse Challenge this week was set by Karen, over at Menopausal Mumma).