Every November 2nd I come out to the Evergreen cemetery to lay marigolds on the gravestones of the dearly departed. It’s not as it should be though; the families should be out here, feasting with their ancestors. But it is not a tradition for this little old cemetery. So I do what I can.
This year I was not alone. An old stooped gentleman was standing next to a recent headstone. I kept my distance as I could tell he was in reflective contemplation. I made my way through the graveyard, placing small bouquets of marigolds at each grave in honor of the dead. When I got to the newer grave sites I saw the old man was gone. When I arrived at the stone he was standing by, I noticed a bouquet of faded lavender with a letter attached. It was without an envelope so I stopped to read the missive.
My Dearest Mary,
As you know I am a coward. I have been wanting to make reparations all these years but I could never bring myself to face you. It is only now, after you have passed away, that I find the courage to ask your forgiveness.
What I did all those years ago, to you and your unborn child, our child, is unforgivable. We were just kids really. And I should have never pressured you. But it was the war and all; I really didn’t know if I would be coming back. But merciful God shined his face upon me and returned me to my home, and to you. I can only imagine what you had gone through, those years alone, unmarried, with a baby to care for. You weren’t there when I returned.
I suppose your family thought it best that you move away, from prying eyes. They wouldn’t tell me anything. I had no way of tracing where you had gone. Then time started to fly by. When word of you did come, you had married and moved to the States.
Again, years went by before I myself traveled across the pond. I had you tracked down. I wanted to see you. To make amends. But when the time came, and I sat in my car across the street from your home, I couldn’t do it. I was afraid of what you would say to me. The look in your eye. So I just drove away.
I always tried to keep up with what you were doing, where you were, how our boy was getting along. I found he had made it into Boston College. You must have been so proud. I know I was. And now he has his own wife and children. I stood off to the side of your funeral here. I din’t want to intrude. I didn’t know how. Our son, your son, is a fine man because of you. I can’t take any credit.
I want you to know, Mary, that I never stopped thinking about you, about the both of you. I never married. I have stayed alone all these years, hoping that maybe a chance might come along for us to be together again. I should have tried harder, and I am so sorry.
Wow! What a bombshell if any family member were to happen upon this note. I had a brief mind to take the letter with me, but something stayed my hand. Maybe, if someone were to find the letter, they would discover that they were not completely alone. There’s still family out here in the world of the living.
I arranged the marigolds around the lavender. The bright orange flowers brightened up the fading lavender and brought to them a healthy glow.
I pressed my lips to my hand then laid it on Mary’s headstone.
“Look after Angus, Mary,” I stated softly. “He made a mistake, but he wants your forgiveness.”
I left Evergreen and headed home. I wondered if I would see lavender on Mary’s grave next year.
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This post is in response to The Weekly Writing Challenge. Have a look at other wonderful stories based on ‘Traces’.