Pulling off to the side of the narrow road, I put the car into park and turned off the engine.
All at once, the air around me becomes very still.
For several moments, I revel in silence.
Reaching my left hand to the door handle, I opened the door, swing my legs over and get out of the car.
Breathing in a deep sigh, my eyes take in the familiar gentle landscape that surrounds me.
I feel better now, much better.
Reaching back inside the car, I retrieve a bag containing a modest bouquet of flowers and bottle of water.
Hesitating for a moment, I consider whether or not I should leave the keys in the ignition.
I left them in the car.
This is a cemetery, not downtown.
Circling the front of the car, I then step up onto the curb and into a lawn of well manicured grass. My feet welcome the pillowy effect as compared to the unforgiving asphalt they were use to.
Following a set course, I veer alongside the quiet graves of a dozen or so people who shall forever remain strangers to me.
There is an immediate sense of guilt at how easily I am able to ignore the names engraved on the headstones as they silently call out for attention. But no, they are not the reason I have come to the cemetery.
Only when my feet reach the edge of a small plot of a grave bearing the name of a young girl brutally tortured and murdered, do the cries for my attention stop.
My first few moments at this graveside are emotionally confusing ones. I want to cry for her. I want to be grateful for her salvation. I want to comfort her by telling her how beautiful is the place where her body rests.
My attention then turns to the generous bouquet of flowers which rest beside her name. They are still fresh in spite of the day’s heat and constant sun. Indeed, this bouquet is certainly larger and sweeter smelling than my tribute of stalky carnations.
I have no doubt whatsoever they confirm the recent visit of her parents. Although I have never seen them here, I know that they come often as there are always fresh and beautiful flowers here. They are the tribute of grieving parents and their continual love for an absent daughter.
And as beautiful as these flowers may be, they do not match the once beauty of the young teen who lies here now.
Never having known her, I can only recall the photographs from the newspapers. Indeed, I even remember the day that her brother announced to our high school science class the joyous news on the birth of his baby sister.
That was about twenty-four years ago.
Reaching into the bag that I brought with me, I withdraw the modest carnations and carefully place one here and one there so as not to disturb the other flowers. Then, taking the bottle of water, I unscrew the cap and pour the contents into the thirsty urn.
There is a stone bench in front of her grave, one that I have sat upon many times.
I sit down.
After a few moments, I turn my head to the left, towards the direction where Grampa’s grave lies patiently waiting. He lived a full life and died an old man. I know he understands why I sit alongside this grave first and not his. He knows that it’s his turn next.
I’d like to think that one day, I’ll be buried here too. It seems only right.
And on that day of judgement when we face God, I shall not be silent. Indeed, I must admit, that I feel some trepidation at what I may say over the outrage that I feel over this tragic and violent loss. This makes no sense. It is all wrong.
My eyes then find their way way to the rosy clouds above and the dimming sky. It is growing late and my own two daughters are expecting me to return home within the hour.
But first, I will visit Grampa and fondly think on my happy memories of him.
Before walking away, I tell Kristin to rest content in the knowledge that she is remembered and sadly missed.