“He was my only son though, so it made it that much harder, but I’m past it now. Only have been really for about 10 years now though.”
“Oh,” I didn’t really know what to say, took a long drink of coffee.
“It’s hard to talk about, I know, but don’t worry. But if you ever, ever need anything, please just let me know. Even if it is just to talk.”
Debra reached across the table, grabbed my hand and hugged me with her eyes.
There is nothing worse than waking up to an alarm in the dark. I laid in bed for a good minute or two with the obnoxious beeping of the alarm blaring in my ear, feeling sorry for myself, but knowing I had to get up.
I was going to beat my father’s flower admirer to his grave this morning even if it meant I had to get up before the frost began to thaw on his headstone and the sun greeted the day. I threw on two jackets and jumped into my truck to immediately curse seeing the digital dashboard screen read out that it was not yet 6 am and the temperature had not yet risen to 40 degrees.
The frigid wind that ripped through the cemetery seemed to make the world seem even colder than the 38 degrees the car advertised. Even with my jackets and long underwear, I was shivering in the dark when I checked the grave to make sure the daily flowers weren’t there yet.
I retreated to my truck and the welcome warmth of its air conditioning. I flicked on some sports radio and leaned back in my seat, my eyes stuck to my father’s grave getting glazed by mists of cold rainfall as the sun slowly rose behind the cemetery.
Apparently, I appreciated that heat and comfort of the seat too much. I woke some time later to see the world bright and shiny around me. My watch confirmed I had been asleep for more than an hour.
I looked out at my father’s grave and saw some pink flowers dancing in a light breeze before I opened the truck door and headed out into the cold.
A closer examination confirmed the pink and white tulips resting on my dad’s grave.
A furious look off in the distance behind the cemetery revealed all was not lost. Trudging into the edge of a forest behind the cemetery was a person in a bright yellow raincoat.
Dodging gravestones left and right, I ran as fast as I could through the cemetery with my eyes locked on the bright figure who was just starting to disappear into the trees.
“Hey,” I called out again, but the figure didn’t slow.
The person appeared smaller and smaller with every yard I cleared, until I could tell the figure was a small woman. I followed the dirt path she was on to exit the cemetery and continued my pursuit in the near dark the tree cover above created.
I picked up my pace in the cover of the woods and was now just a few yards behind the woman, who continued to ignore my hollers.
“Hey,” I yelled one more time before I got my hand onto her shoulder.
The woman whipped around in a frenzy and locked horrified eyes with me. Before I even examined her face I noticed white ear buds tucked inside her yellow hood and felt horrible for not realizing she just couldn’t hear me through her music.
“Oh my god, I’m sorry,” I blurted out just as I realized I already knew the woman.
It was Debra.
“Oh my god, Debra, I’m sorry.”
The panic and fear in Debra’s eyes didn’t dissipate in the slightest despite my apologies but I just kept on blubbering until something clicked in my brain.
Debra the one putting the flowers on my dad’s grave.