This Rose

October 23, 2008
By Melissa McSweeney, Barrington, IL

I visited Kevin’s grave today.

It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while,
I’ve just been too scared up until now.

I calmly walked into the cemetery and walked to the back.
(That’s where all the new ones are)

The grave was simply a hole with dirt on top,
A few dying flowers scattered here and there.

I held my breath and prayed not to break down
As I placed a single rose upon the dirt.

All was silent. And for some reason, I was scared.
What was I expecting? A reaction? A miracle? His resurrection?

Nothing happened.

Then, it hit me.

He will never see this rose,
He will never smell this rose,
He will never know why he got this rose,
And he will never know it was me who gave him this rose.

Once again, reality slapped me in the face.

I looked to the empty graveyard fields behind me,
Only inhabited by a few baby trees.

Someday, more people I know will be buried here.
And I’ll return with more roses that will never be appreciated.

But for now, I’ll continue being irrationally afraid of trains
And extra cautious before crossing train tracks
And being made fun of for being so paranoid about this,

When what’s really going on is the fact that I just accepted his death as reality today.

He’s gone. He’s never coming back.

I don’t want the rest of my life to be like the empty graveyard fields;
Just waiting for something bad to happen until it’s all dug up.

Though the sound of an arriving train will haunt me forever,
I still want to cherish some roses and give them to people I care about,

Like you.

Here is a rose.

You can see this rose,
You can smell this rose,
You know why I gave you this rose,
And you know it was me who gave you this rose.

Because I love you. And I want you to know that.

Just in case.

The author's comments:
A boy who went to my school was hit by a train last November. It was an event that shook and united the entire student body as a whole, but more so students as individuals. For many of us, it was among the first times we had to accept the death of a loved one, and it really brought life into perspective. Cherish what and who you are given; for in a moment, everything can change.

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