There are no children in the patio today, save for that stray child trotting around morosely, kicking around wet leaves and screaming “Ole! Ole! Ole!” for no apparent reason. I wonder what his mother has been feeding him. I wonder if I should contact Social Services.
Today, children are being forced into suits and dark dresses, oddly colored ties and black shoes. Grumbling frowns. They are being taken to ashy graves, skeletons under their feet, their eyes twitching about nervously. Agitated. Even the smallest of them know this is not a place to be trusted.
They are embarrassed, watching their parents kneel, some of them crying, laying hands over stone headstones. They watch, and although they do not understand, they also weep.
The sky is somber today, there is dirty water on the ground. For once, everything is colorless and empty. I can’t hear the usual morning sounds, the clanking and banging of pots, the vibrant swearing, the swish of zippers as people emerge from the building, purposeful.
I tell my mother we should go visit my grandfather’s grave.
She doesn’t answer.
“Don’t you know where it is?”
“Yes.” She says, slowly. “But I’ve never been there.”
“What? You’ve never visited your father’s grave?!”
“He never let me go to graveyards.”
I look at her curiously. She holds on to his authority, even after he’s been dead for more than fourteen years. Onto him.
“I still think we should go. It’s All Saint’s Day. You’re Christian, aren’t you? We should go.”
“But they’re not there. He’s not in the ground. It’s just bones.”
“So? We should go. We’re supposed to. It’s tradition.”
She’s quiet and I realize that maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. Maybe we should avoid his grave, today, where the pain of others will also be visible. Let my mother’s sorrow sleep. Quietly, where it will not do us any harm.
Or perhaps it should come now, to the surface. Unveiled, and thus vulnerable. So the emptiness he left will be filled, with something.
But I have a feeling this kind of sadness cannot be taken away, not fully. It can’t be that simple. To have loved, and lost?
I think about the swarms of sobbing people, the very ones at the graveyards right now.
Maybe they, and my mother, will never be whole again.
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