The calloused hands of the priest slowly pressed together the leaves of a small black leather volume imprinted with a cross, an empty casket laid behind him, with the lid open, and three figures, arm in arm stood with wet eyes before him. Two men flanked a small woman, all clothed in grief and burdened with regret.
As the priest left the grave sight, his solemn duty done the women step forward. In her hand she gripped a package of bazooka bubble, each wrapped in a comic. With a convulsive sob she laid her treasure on the silk pillow and stepped back to stand between the men.
The smaller of the two men stepped forward, the black sleeves of his dress shirt rolled up to reveal sturdy forearms. He pulled from his back pocket a small faded photo in a frame; the image was of a family, a younger version of this man stood behind a seated couple and a young girl resting in their arms. Standing before the casket he ran his fingers over the faces in the photo. With a shaking hand and lowered head he stowed the photo face down on the silk back of the coffin where the heart of her that was meant to lie there would have been. He shuttered as he stepped back, taking the arm of the women and walking away leaving the final mourner alone to say his farewell.
The lonely man clad in a suit of black pulled from the inner pocket of his jacket a box of white velvet, which held a ring and a promise that would never be fulfilled. He slide one foot out and drew closer to the final resting place, this empty coffin which would lie between two strangers, this thought drove him to his knees. He opened the box and a glimmer of light ran across the curve of the platinum ring and he remembered how her smile curved and glinted in her eyes. His eyes where blinded with tears but her face still burned in his mind. His lips moved but sorrow had stolen his voice, he mouthed the words that he had longed to say to her. When his lips had sensed to utter soundless vows and promises, he pressed them hard together and closed the lid of the box with a snap, which died quickly in that stone marked yard. He lifted himself from the ground with great effort and placed his promise in the casket, which would never hold what was lost to him in body and soul. He tried to see her laying there at peace but all he could see was images of her broken body laying ill at ease in a desolate place. His hand flew up and slammed the lid of the coffin closed but even this violent demonstration could not wash the horrifying images from him mind. His shouldered dropped in complete defeat and he sobbed bitterly. As the burning tears dried on his white check he looked up and signaled a man who was standing far off. This man was solemn but untouched by grief; he paced slowly to stand at the foot of the casket.
The shaking hand of the man took the red rose that had adorned his lapel and laid it on the curved top of the coffin, he tucked his hands in his pockets and nodded to the man attending him. At this signal the coffin began to slip away, down to be covered by earth. The fragmented man watched as the single rose disappeared into darkness with what remained of his soul.

~In Loving Memory of Becky Hall-Nielson~

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