The Rose

Her tears lost themselves among the raindrops that now sank deep into the dirt ground, 6 feet too shallow for him to feel them. Maya smiled at the stone marker staring back at her. “You always loved the rain.”

She rolled the stem of the red rose between her fingers as the images of happier times flashed before her, ghosts of a life left behind. “I guess you loved it a little too much.” She looked up at the grey clouds, pregnant and bursting with a grief that could only be expressed through the tears they now shed with her… or for her? Maya couldn’t be sure anymore. 

It had been three years since the accident and she still couldn’t decide which was the greater tragedy; that he had died, or that she had survived. 

Life had all been a blur since then, a mix of PTSD and a myriad of unanswered questions. She had searched for an escape at the bottom of bottles, trying to drown out the voices, the whispers echoing in the chambers of her mind. She had succeeded in finding refuge from all but one: Why?

He had been everything she was not. He had been the good one, the dreamer, the charismatic socialite, the one everyone loved, admired and looked up to. Everyone including herself. He made a difference in the world. There were still so many things he hadn’t done, so many things he wished he’d do. Yet, she was the one standing at his grave.

“I wonder…” 

Maya jumped at the voice of the old scarecrow of a man, pale face lifted to the heavens. She hadn’t noticed him arrive, hadn’t noticed anyone else around, and yet his soaked peacoat and matted wet hair suggested he had been out in the rain almost as long as she had been. “Excuse me? Who are you?” She took a step away from him.

“I wonder if he’s really up there…” 

“Who?” The man’s gaze shifted to the gravestone and Maya pulled the rose closer to her chest. “Did you know my father?”

He sighed, clasping his hands behind his back. “In a manner of speaking.” 

“How did… who are …” her words trailed into silence and she turned back to the stone. Her father had touched many lives, it would only be natural for them to pay their respects. 

“You come here with questions.” The man spoke without looking at her. “I see it in your eyes, those unanswered questions. Those depressing thoughts of what if…” He paused for a moment, sighed and then turned to her. “You miss him. Everyone who has lost a loved one feels that pain, like a piece of their heart is missing and can never be replaced. I know that feeling all too well.”

Maya stared at him. Who was this man?

“I do not presume to know the depths of your grief.” He turned back to the stone, “But I do know, if your father loved you, he wouldn’t want you to suffer so much. He would want you to move on with your life, to be happy. To let go of the pain.”

“You don’t know anything about my pain.” She hissed through gritted teeth.

“Pain is pain. No matter what the cause, it is still pain. We all feel it, to varying degrees, at different points in our life. Pain is a part of life. It is what lets you know you’re still alive. It is a signal to you that something is out of balance in your life. A signal, not a state.” He looked at Maya. “You have made it a state, Maya, and this is why you are trapped in it.”

Maya gasped. “How do you..” 

“I know many things.” He turned away from her and the gravestone. “I actually came here to tell you this… the more you run and hide from life, the sooner you will stop living.” He started to walk away. 

“Wait! Please?” Maya called out to him, but he kept walking. “Please sir, I don’t understand.”

He didn’t stop walking. “It’s simple, Maya. Live your life or you’ll be seeing me again much sooner than you think.” 

Maya wiped the rain from her eyes. “But – “ She started, but the man was gone. She scanned the surroundings for where he could have gone. Nowhere. He had just vanished. 

She shook her head, dropped the rose and hurried out of the cemetery. 

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