The sun is warm against my back, the grass prickly-dry and the ground leaving dust-prints on my dress. My fingers caress the stone: cool and so smooth it feels wet. I trace the sharp letters: no ‘dearly beloved of…’; just your name, your dates, RIP. Your mother chose it. I would have given you poetry. I would have given you everything.
Is this epitaph meant for me? To wad platitudes against the gaping hole? To stem the sorrow bleeding from my soul by pretending to know you rest gently?
This is a peaceful place to rest. Trees and hedges mask the main road that’s not that busy, really, except when school ends. The sky, today, is vivid blue with a scattering of cirrus clouds – the ones you said were angel hair. The intermittent breeze has fallen still.
A pair of racing squirrels break my reverie. I lean back and listen to the bird song – melodic warbles and a cawing crow. The breeze returns, picks up discarded leaves and that crisp packet someone left and I lean back and ponder: is it for you?
The epitaph. Not a wish for peace in repose, but a command.
The breeze is stronger now – strong enough to send a shiver from my neck, and suddenly the peace and stillness feels oppressive, feels eternal like I will be alone forevermore.
Is that it? We’re not trying to comfort ourselves with those words, but demanding that you lie still and do not rise like some vampire to feed on our grief, keep us trapped in some twilight-life; not dead, but unable to live without you.
Here. Have my grief. Have my sorrow. Have my tears. Please, rest easy. Let me live. Rest in peace.