It’s funny how a rock can have such a connection.
This is the final page of the story, the first book in the tale of our lives. I guess, in a way, I was happy that it wasn’t there. I was pleased that the plot of grass, sometimes muddied by rain and too much watering and sometimes vacant, like any other section of lawn made it somewhat difficult to see where Andrea was. That way, you see, I didn’t have to face that last few lines of the book.
But the lines are written now. It’s an epitaph. I struggled with that . . . a long time. I didn’t want something cheesy and I didn’t have space or room to do more.
So I stopped to make sure it was installed, since I was getting no answers from the cemetery, and there it was . . . in plain view, shining and new against the grass, the pink creeping over the clouds and the grey granite contrasting the green of the grass . . . reflecting the orange hue of the sky.
I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think it would affect me the way it did.
I honestly thought it sounded cheesy and silly to think this was me avoiding something. Every day I deal with the missing things in our lives and I do it fairly well, I choose to tell myself. I’d come to terms with the fact that this is the way things are. I’d come to a crossroads and chosen the path . . . only to veer off the road as often as possible, just to keep things interesting.
I don’t know how to describe what I was going through when I got there. I’ve missed her more than I thought possible, but I’d come to terms with her being part of our lives but no longer in them. I’d come to terms with raising the kids and Abbi leaving and Hannah going to high school. I have dealt with Noah getting angry and losing his temper. I have dealt with Hannah not turning in assignments. I have dealt with being the man who had to tell each of those children . . . her parents . . . mine . . . and her sister that Andrea’s not coming home ever again. These are all burdens that I had to bear without her help. A year ago, this close to her birthday, when I started writing, I was angry about it.
Tonight . . . I realized I really missed her. That’s all. I’m not still pining for her loss or grasping at the loss of the woman I loved. I can’t bring up any other way of putting it other than that.
I miss her.
In my head I came to realize that I could put her to the back of my mind and fool my emotions into the fact she’s just gone, not gone. Instead, after this, it’s like I finally read the last few lines of the story.
The funny thing about that is I alternated between emotions in wave after wave for the near half hour I sat there. I was relieved. I don’t know what it is about cemeteries . . . or more to point, those stones . . . that draws us. I felt so much more connected and able to finally tell her things. To ask her things that I normally would never have dreamed of bringing up before. I’d talk and then see that photo and . . . I’d miss her again. I realized I hadn’t checked that epitaph, either, so I went around to see it.
I can’t take all the credit. The first two lines are mine. I wrote those in a song for her some twenty years ago. The last two are from a BB King song I used to sing for her – all the time. I can’t really sing it any more.
I don’t play or sing her song, not after our video last year. It’s very hard to deal with that way and it’s hers, not mine anymore.
But I should explain . . . just because I felt these things, just because I miss her, doesn’t mean I’m falling back again. I left feeling a sense of nostalgic happiness. The story’s over, but I know that it’s the foundation for the stories to come. I cannot fight missing her, she’s a part of my life, as well as the lives of Abbi, Hannah, Noah and Sam. For the first time I realized that I was living with her and living on and it’s okay to miss her. But by the same token, I am living with it, not fighting it any more.
So it’s true, this story has ended and I am happy with the last lines we’ve written:
Fly on, my sweet angel. I love the way you spread your wings.