Halfway towards the lake, and the carpark is a dull haze through the heavy curtain of rain. Walking slowly I put off looking back, safe for the moment away from grief stricken eyes and sympathetic sighs. It's the soft spoken voices that hurt the most, the terse smiles and strained faces lined with worry. Vigilant eyes won't leave me in peace, I'm constantly watched in case I disappear.
Don't do that Mom! Wear a coat! Eat something! Jesus- I feel like a child, useless, helpless, stupid. So what if I'm lost in my thoughts and quieter nowadays, my smile is buried deep and I choose to keep it that way. Pain catches in my chest when I think of him, my little ray of sunshine. I miss him. What do they want from me? That's not my way and it never was. Dave tries to comfort me as he always has over the years but this time it's not enough. We were never dramatic; stoicism bound us together as a couple but lately he watches me as if he expects me to flip out without warning. They all know I wouldn't do that, but still they watch.
Scattering his ashes was their idea, I don't want to do it. I wanted to keep the only part of my son I have left. Nope – that's weird. The lake was also their idea, where we spent most summers, but it's no more special for us than any other place. I didn't argue. There's no point in arguing anymore. When I try to say how I feel, what I want, their heads tilt so far to the side I'm afraid they'll fall over. So today I trudge, through the trees getting drenched – even they hadn't foreseen this storm - hugging the urn tightly.
When I'm sure no one can see, I take the empty plastic bag from my pocket, bend down decanting the contents of the urn, my large coat obstructing the view. I tie the bag tight with a knot and put it in my pocket, sure that the bulge is visible.
Small mercies they let me do this alone, keeping their distance in silence. Laughter gurgles in my throat and I have to swallow hard to keep it from escaping. Why must hysteria strike now when I need to look somber? Tipping the imaginary contents over the water I shake the urn softly.
Pretense ended I tuck the empty vessel under one arm, shoving my hand in other pocket as I head back up the hill to my waiting family.
Wet fingers close around the soft bag giving it a squeeze. My boy will stay with me now like he should have all along, instead of fighting for a cause that wasn't his. He will help me heal and one day, I'll be able to say his name again.
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