The wrought iron gates loomed above me, their twisted metal bars contorted into mirroring shapes. As I breathed in I could taste the sharp tang of metal attacking my tongue. If I peered carefully enough, like snow drifting to the ground, I could see the dusty red flaking off. Even standing outside the gates, I could feel a presence hovering over me, the whole grounds were sacred.
Through the gates the world was different. The grass, which had been wild and unkempt outside, was a glowing green – trimmed with precision. There was a silence in the graveyard; whereas, outside the world was loud and busy, there was a sense of peace within. The silence pressed down on me as I walked along the path, gravel crunching under foot, it was like the pressure underwater in a swimming pool. As I breathed in I could feel the dead; their spirits lingering after their bodies had decomposed.
I continued to walk along the worn path, the wind gently whistling through an abundance of trees. The pressured silence was shattered by a bird taking flight from a nearby tree; its wings flapping desperately, trying to keep itself afloat. In front of me was the church – its holy presence that made me feel insignificant in comparison to its grandeur.
There was no ornamental gravestone to mark her final resting place – only a small marble block. Its significance was minor in comparison to the enormity of the graveyard but, to me, it was the most important thing in the world. The words, carelessly engraved onto its front, were simple, concise, yet each word had meaning. They had been carefully chosen by my family – each word trying to convey the love for the women we had lost. When the sun emerged from behind a cloud the light would bounce off the block – it would shimmer in the sunlight – showing the energy of the life of the person who had once had that life themselves.
All of a sudden emotion began to pour from of me – one simple fact dancing to the forefront of my mind as I gazed at the stone in front of me: ‘She was gone, forever; never coming back.’ Grief consumed my every fibre – tears pouring down my face like a waterfall. My body was wracked with sobs, I was shaking uncontrollably. The sadness was all consuming. It seemed to be eternal. The despair I felt at her loss was in some ways indescribable. Yet still thoughts, memories, dashed around my mind: days we had spent together, feeding the ducks by the river, the warmth of a hug. All these things that were so little, inconsequential even, yet to me – they meant the world. And in the midst of my anguish, the never ending sorrow was one word…
Leaving was hard – a part of my soul had died with her. But now, after my fit of heartbreak had ended (or at least was currently under control) I knew I had to leave. To stay would be fruitless – she was gone and was never coming back. Ever. This was the part that hurt me the most. I would never see her smile again, or have her kiss my forehead at night, or taste her cooking – made with so much love and affection. But I knew now, as I did every time I visited, that I had to allow myself to move on. Life should not be squandered on morning the dead, especially since I knew she would be waiting for me. She was always there, just beyond, somewhere I could never reach. But she was also always in my heart, always and forever with me.
As I began to make the long journey home my hand reached to the string around my neck. I traced my figures along the frayed, worn rope as I withdrew the pendant. Still holding on to hope, longing and curiosity; I gazed at it. I frowned slightly – wondering what it meant. Always and forever, I would wear it as a reminder. Always ask questions before it is too late.
Because now it was too late.
And I would wonder.
Always and forever.