Monday, June 13, 2011

Writing at the edge of a grave

I've never stood at the edge of a grave or at a funeral, but if I did this is what I would imagine.

Sean stood at the edge of her parents’ grave with a stiff spine, an empty shot glass in his hand, and recited the Irish funeral prayer. “May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. May the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, May the Lord hold you in the palm of His hand.

When Sean returned to her side, she reached out and touched his cheek. She saw tears swimming in his eyes. He was burying his second family and saying goodbye to the folks who helped raise him. She let her hand drop and took his hand in hers as Mrs. Doyle, her mother’s best friend stepped forward and gave her prayer. “Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow. I am the diamond glints on the snow. I am the sunlight that ripened grain. I am the gentle autumn's rain. When you awaken in the morning's hush, I am the swift uplifting rush; Of quiet birds in circled flight, I am the soft star that shines at night. Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.”

Then Diego stepped forward surprising her. Tears immediately welled in her eyes as she held her breath and waited for him to speak. His misty gaze on hers, he recited the words, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal; Love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

Oh, jeez! She couldn’t hold back the tears any longer, they came flooding out and streaming down her cheeks. She dropped her gaze from his and willed the tears away. Then she felt a hand lift her chin. He brushed her face with the back of his hand then kissed her cheek.

“There won’t be a dry eye in the house when you finish singing,” he whispered so only she could hear.

Her mouth dropped open. How did he know?

“Your father told me.” He stepped next to her, placed his hand at her lower back and gave her a gentle yet forceful shove.

Taking the hint, she stepped forward, holding her mother’s favorite flowers, Stargazer lilies with their bright pink petals smiling up at her in her hand. Sean stepped up next to her, pressed the butt of the fiddle to his chin and gave her the nod. Ready when she was. She took a deep breath, nodded back, and waited for the first note of the fiddle’s strings. Then the words to One More Day tumbled out low and gentle. As the words moved her, her voice grew strong and loud, clear as the day and echoing off the river. The river that was her father.

Her voice moved into a sweet and powerful lilt as she sang the Irish lyrics of the song knowing her father would have loved to hear her sing “the Irish,” as he would say. Waves lapped along the rocks of the river as she moved into the last chorus.

Dry all your tears
Come what may
And in the end the sun will rise
On one more day
Hey
The sun will rise on one more day. . .


She looked up, across the graves and out to the river. As she did, she pictured her Mum and Da standing before her smiling in the sun and waving goodbye. Hand-in-hand they turned to walk away when her father paused and glanced over his shoulder. Over the movement of the people, the breeze, and the gentle waves of the river, she could have sworn she heard her father’s words.

“Tá grá agam duit.”

“I love you, too, Da,” she breathed then turned and tossed the flowers into the graves. “Goodbye.”

4 comments:

Robin K June 13, 2011 at 6:28 PM  

I have goose bumps...

Denise June 13, 2011 at 6:53 PM  

aww. aren't you sweet.

The "Old Fart" from Florida. June 13, 2011 at 9:58 PM  

I didn't openly cry while reading this, but there was a lot of moisture collecting around my eyes. I thought it was a very touching piece showing a lot emotion that we have all felt at one time or another.

Love ya, Kid!

Denise June 15, 2011 at 2:51 PM  

Hehe. Thanks, Dad.

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