A Whisper in the Breeze
The walk is painfully slow, but I value the silence the powdery surface provides me. The last time I visited, the crunching of the fall’s leaves made me wince the entire way to see you. The sound was reminiscent of things I’d rather not remember. Things that changed my life irrevocably.
The snow is packed now, and I can see all the other people’s footsteps leading to their own destinations in the vast expanse, dotted with headstones along the hilly landscape. The cold in the air keeps me grounded in the present, reminding me to stay focused on the task at hand before my toes get frostbitten in the shoes I shouldn’t have worn for this kind of weather.
A brisk gust sends a biting chill through me that even the thick pea coat I got from the Army Navy surplus store in Port Angeles can’t keep out.
The coat I bought with you. Your words saying the color complimented my eyes trickle through my mind like a meandering stream, only to be gone in a flash, my thoughts moving past these memories of happier times.
I’m here, in the dead of winter, on one of the coldest days of the year, not only to remember, but to punish myself for losing you.
For causing you to depart this earth.
Leaving not only me, but your father and my own parents devastated with the news.
All because of me.
When I finally reach your headstone, I take a moment to brush the snow off the top, wiping away the residual leaves and debris that’s collected since I last visited. Kneeling down into the wet snow I allow myself to feel the dampness seep into my skin as the cold moves through my clothes, forcing myself to accept the pain, knowing you felt so much more than I did when your time came.
Bowing my head, I feel the tears burning behind my closed lids, struggling to release and fall onto the frozen ground below. I pinch them shut harder, not willing to let my lowly tears mar the sacred ground where you now rest.
I have so much to say. So much to tell you, yet all I can manage through shaky breaths is, “I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” Before I can even complete the sentence my body is wracked with sobs, deep and uncontrollable. I allow them to come and take over, knowing I’m weak for allowing it. You deserve so much more than my sorrow. So much more than my constant state of loneliness.
But the ache sitting in the pit of my chest is heavy and persistent.
How could you have left me here to fend for myself? How am I supposed to continue living when it feels like there is so little point in doing so?
The wind picks up, blowing the snow from the branches of the tree above me, swirling around, creating a plume of fluffy flakes that float down on top of me.
I don’t even bother to brush the snow off my shoulders, keeping my head bowed and thinking only of you.
Your smile that could light up the entire room, the tiny gap between your teeth making it even more endearing.
The way you loved wearing my old college sweatshirt, even though there were holes in the cuffs where you’d repeatedly pulled them down over your hands to ward off the chill in our tiny apartment.
The way you’d pronounce onion as if it had a g in it.
The way you’d sing animatedly into your brush after your shower if one of your favorite songs came onto the radio, and instead of being embarrassed about being caught, you’d shove the brush in my face and urge me to sing along.
The way your hair would constantly get into your eyes, no matter what type of headband or clip you’d tried to keep it in place. It was unruly and wild, not unlike you.
The way you’d snuggle up behind me in bed, trying to capitalize on my overabundance of body heat.
I miss almost everything about you, and it only makes me weep harder, thinking about all I’ve lost.
Like a whisper in the breeze I swear I hear my name being called out, in a voice that sounds so much like your own.
Shaking my head, I can’t believe I’m sleep-deprived enough to be hallucinating, but that’s all I can attribute to your voice calling to me from a distant place.
“Edward, you’re not alone…” I frantically look around to see who’s talking to me, but there’s no one else dumb enough to be visiting the gravesite in this frigid weather.
“You’ll be happy again, I promise.” It takes everything thing I have not to bash my head against the stone marker bearing your name to make myself believe I’m not dreaming your ethereal voice.
“I’m so sorry,” I shout to the trees and all the headstones sitting as silent witnesses to my complete mental breakdown. “I shouldn’t have looked down; I should have seen that truck. I should have swerved the car, keeping you safe. I should’ve - .” I don’t have the strength to finish my sentence; I have too many regrets to mention them all in a string of absurd ramblings into the frosty air.
The wind picks up again, only this time it feels like a warm blanket wrapping around me as it swirls like a tornado, kicking up the snow to resemble a life-size snow globe.
“It wasn’t your fault. It was my time. Please. Please don’t blame yourself.” Your ghostly voice calls out to me amid the gust blowing past my ears. I can only accept that it is my all-consuming grief tricking me into believing that I’m having a conversation with my dead fiancée.
“Edward!” Your voice this time was strong and clear, shouting directly into my brain. It makes me remember how stubborn and forceful you could be if I wasn’t catching on to a point you were trying to make in your usual nonsensical stream of thoughts.
“You’re going to be happy. Let me go. It’s been long enough. I’ll see you eventually. Please,” you urge. “Let me go.”
Your voice is begging, pleading me to move on, when every ounce of love still in my heart is breaking all over again at the thought of losing you. Even if it’s just a dream, I have you, and I don’t want to relinquish what small piece I have left.
“You’re only keeping yourself from your destiny by clinging to my memory. I’m still here, watching over you. I always will be. But it’s time.”
I swear I feel your fingers slide off my shoulders, leaving me sitting in the graveyard once again alone, except now the numbness has seeped in to take over where the cold once was.
“Excuse me, sir, but we’re closed for the night.”
A beautiful voice is calling out to my groggy, sleep-filled mind when I realize I’m curled up next to Angela’s headstone. My fingers are still touching where I’ve traced the year of her death over and over after my brief mental lapse where I actually thought she was speaking to me.
Two years today. She left me and there isn’t anything I can do but push myself off the ground and move forward, one foot in front of the other, just like I have each day since she was killed by a sleep-deprived trucker who hit us head on through a foggy, dark stretch of highway.
Looking over, I see a petite woman wearing a thick jacket, shiny black mittens and a fuzzy hat covering her head down past her ears.
“I’m sorry. I must have fallen asleep. I’ll be out of your hair.” Brushing the snow off my pants, I stomp my feet on the hard ground, trying to get the blood moving through them again.
“I don’t know how you could fall asleep on a day like today.” She walks up to me, pulling the mittens off her hands, wrapping my own freezing fingertips in her palms trying to warm them up. “If I hadn’t come upon you, I’m not sure if you would have survived the night in just that jacket. What were you thinking?” Her scolding tone is charming and cute, and I find myself chuckling in response.
“I’m one of the caretakers of this ol’place. I’ve got some coffee brewing back in the guard shack. Come on, let’s get you warmed up, then you can tell me what on God’s green earth possessed you to come out here on a day like today, dressed like it was Spring?” She continues to talk, leading me by my hands, still grasped within her own, towards the small building next to the gate I drove past when I arrived.
“What’s your name?” I ask. Pulling my hands out from hers, I rub them together to try and get the tingly feeling that’s coursing through my fingers to go away. It’s been way too long since I’ve held another woman’s hand, and I’m not sure how to process it.
“I’m Bella, Bella Swan.”
“Edward Masen, nice to meet you.” We shake hands briefly before continuing on towards our destination.
The sun is starting to set down below the rolling hills, the sky is a bloom of bright pink and blues. Turning around for one last glance at your grave, I can barely make out your misty figure blowing me a kiss before disappearing into the dim twilight.
Shaking my head at the absurdity of it all, I nod at the sky, silently thanking her for the reminder that even though she’s gone, I need to continue to live. It will never be the same without her, but life moves forward even if we don’t want it to. The ebb and flow of the universe will continue to bring people into my life and take them away when it’s time. I realize I need to cherish the ones I still have, and remember the ones I’ve lost, but not remain stuck in the past.
Watching Bella as we trudge through the grounds towards the guard house allows me to reflect for a moment on Angela’s words. I haven’t even looked at another woman in the two years since she died, but I find myself appreciating the beauty and kindness of the petite woman leading me through the snow.
Perhaps Angela’s right. Destiny just may be closer than I think.