62 Years and Two Hard Words

Sixty-Two Years and Two Hard Words, by Scott Ott
Photo: Scott Ott

by Scott Ott

She places the stems in the green plastic vase, and lightly pushes the blooms around until six colors work together. She approaches the stone, careful to avoid treading on the area directly before it. She pushes the spiked end of the vase into the rain-softened soil next to the stone. Her fingers flit across the petals, making slight adjustments, until she brings unity from diversity again. It pleases her to do so. She groans faintly as she stands straight. She steps back to take in the picture. A stone. Brightly dying flowers. Green grass.

Around her, perfect rows of identical stones radiate out, so it seems, from this one. As if they all come together at this point.

“It’s a shame the children can’t be here. Busy lives. They have grown children of their own, lives of their own.”

“I wonder what it would have been like to raise those children with you? To sit next to you at graduation, holding your hand? To see your face when your son said they had named the baby after you? To grow old with you? To trade places, leaving you to stand talking to a stone in a field of stones?”

“It’s a national holiday, you know. We’re remembering the sacrifice of all of them.”

“But I didn’t know the others. I knew you.”

“And I can’t remember the sacrifice. It’s not in the past yet. Because you’re gone, the sacrifice lives on. For me, it’s not a national holiday. It’s your day. It’s my day.”

“Sixty two years I’ve come on this day to say these hard words. It takes me all year to recover the strength to say them again.”

“Thank you.”

“And just in case I don’t make it back next year…”

“Thank you.”

[Originally posted 2006. Written years before.]