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Missed

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Tears have a weird way of stinging your eyes when you don’t want to cry. Misery has a way of chewing through your insides when you don’t want to feel it. Guilt claws at you when you tell yourself there’s no reason to be guilty. People’s eyes fill with pity and sadness and no matter how much you wish you could disappear, you don’t. Everyday drags on with a tempo that makes you want to scream. But you can’t. You can’t think of a way to say what’s circling your mind but it needs to be said. Your hands shake when memories overwhelm you and your eyes water without warning. Sniffles become background noise that you don’t even notice anymore. Looking in the mirror doesn’t help with anything. Tired eyes and a mouth that hasn’t smiled in too long stare back accusingly. Shoulders that are slumped with stress and exhausting make you seem afraid. Clothes that show you don’t care anymore are all you wear. Being alone is easier than being with company because you can be sad without anyone feeling sorry for you. Conversations are shorter and more uncomfortable than you thought they could be. If they take place at all. You feel trapped in a routine that hurts, but the energy required to break free was taken away the same day your smile was. You feel lost, and confused. You try to figure things out but the answer is just out of your reach every time. Remembering is painful, but forgetting is terrifying. You feel trapped in your head, but you continue to go on with your life. You try to move past what happened. Your friends try to help but there’s only so much they can do. You feel like a chunk of you is missing and the hole isn’t something that can be filled. This is how the first two weeks passed.

I was angry, I was depressed, I was moody, and I was violent. I was completely, utterly alone. Then on Monday of the third week, I got a call. The quiet voice told me the order had come in. I tried to be as polite as possible to the person on the other end. How could they sound so calm? My head was still spinning from everything that had happened. I had nothing but questions that I couldn’t answer. Why was it kept from me? Why didn’t I know when everyone else did? I squeezed my eyes shut and felt warm tears slide down my cheeks as I tried to shut out the questions. This was more painful than I thought it would be. I got in my car and blinked a few times before driving. I could do this. I got to the building and looked at it with a bundle of nerves in my gut. I sat in the driver’s seat of the pickup for five minutes building up the courage to go inside. It was heavier than I thought it would be. I refused any help, of course. No one else was going to touch it until it was where it belonged. I sat it in the seat next to me and refused to look. I wouldn’t be able to see past tears if I did. In the past three weeks I had cried more than I thought was humanly possible. But the amount was lessening. This morning I had made it without them until I got the call. I trudged over the frozen ground clutching the heavy object to my chest. I was alone which was how I always seemed to be. I didn’t mind of course. With the tears streaming down my face, and the sobs escaping my lips I didn’t want to see anyone. I walked the already familiar path with the cold marble in my hands. I held on to it for dear life afraid of what would happen if it slipped. When I reached my destination, I paused. I wasn’t sure why I had requested this responsibility as I prepped myself for what was coming. I took the plastic marker out of the ground. My hands were shaking and my breath was coming in awkward hitches. I put my head in my hands and the pendant on my necklace slipped out from underneath my shirt. I looked at the engagement ring slowly and swallowed. I clasped my left hand around it and let the sob free. This was going to be too much if I didn’t move quickly. I followed the technique I had been shown and put the marble slab where it belonged. The work felt good, it cleared my head and allowed me to breathe more easily.

I finished and allowed myself to look. After everything we had made it through, I had never expected this. The words “friend and lover” jumped out at me. The date stared at me tauntingly. June 25, 2012. The day that I had been looking forward to for months. I found my hand on the ring again. The second part of the necklace thumped against my fingers. His ring, the one I had bought in anticipation. The one that had seemed so perfect for him that I had to buy it. The inscription in the middle said “Forever”. It was a sickening feeling realizing I never got a chance to have forever. I stood up, shaking and cleaned up the small mess I had made. I had promised my mother I’d visit her today. I turned around and began to walk away with tears falling down my cheeks. Just as it was about to be out of sight, I turned back to the headstone one last time. Charles Drew Williams. August 1, 1988 – June 25, 2012. Beloved son, friend and lover. You will be sorely missed.




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