It happened by complete accident.
I would get a few dozen roses from the deserted patch where they grow,
Completely natural, beauty and thorns in all.
Catch the first bus to the cemetery.
Whistle as I walked up the first hill and hum
as I dipped down the second one.
I would lay one rose on each grave.
Sitting staring at the stone, wondering, hoping,
that they died peacefully, or for a cause.
As I had my last two roses in tow,
my fingers cold, I pricked my finger as I stopped at the last two headstones.
There side by side lay my grandparents.
The only two people there that I actually knew,
and yet didn’t know at all.
I can still remember my grandmothers scratchy voice, the smell of holy oil, the way she looked in her last years tucked underneath the quilt as most of her had already died.
Then my grandfather, I don’t remember his voice at all.
I remember his trains, sneaking and playing with them knowing one day he just might let me push the button to make the whole scene come to life.
But that day never did come.
It never would.
After years of placing flowers and saying a silent prayer
for those I didn’t know,
I felt completely awkward and out of place, almost as if
I was disturbing their moment.
I felt even worse as I watched the blood droplets drip onto their graves.
Even in death I felt like their burden.
I wasn’t suppose to be alive, I wasn’t suppose to make it,
and yet they lay underneath six feet of cold unloving dirt,
and I stand here crushing the stems of the roses in nervousness, fear, and confusion.
Youth never guarantees life.
Age never guarantees wisdom.
In their eyes, I remember the awkward stares.
In their arms, I felt the half hugs.
In their hearts, my father the biggest mistake that their daughter could have ever trusted.
And I, unwanted and unneeded, am a constant reminder of his psychological and verbal abuse and infidelity.
By now the roses have met the dirt.
I feel no sting from the blood pouring from my hand.
Only a cold emptiness I could never fill.
An emptiness I never noticed until now.
Then suddenly, I feel it.
Two hands on both of my shoulders.
Massaging it gently, bringing warmth into my body.
As I turn around to thank the stranger there is no one.
I smile, look up, and nod.
I pick the red roses and place each one on each grave.
I nod to both before turning away and taking the same path to the exit.
Catching the bus.
Palming the fake doctors note.
And returning to school.
Somehow, somewhere things may never be great,
But they will be alright.