Summer is coming, I have a great boyfriend, and a few final exams are all that stands between me and a wild shared adventure. There are shadows, but I’m used to them, lurking close by. Terminally ill parents, my first full time job was as a nurse. It’s fine.
Parents at hospital appointments, I’m at school. Josh picks me up, and takes me home. Everyone always loved our rural retreat. We enter to sounds of agony. This is not new. I automatically remove Josh to hide a father’s pain. He died while I climbed trees outside with Josh.
I decline extensions on my exams. I go through the motions but never the emotions. I learned stoicism early on. There are details, questions, and condolences. News spreads and I feel the pressure to be okay. One less thing to worry about. It is not well with my soul.
Every bed is full and the kitchen is buried in food. Adults argue around a table at the funeral home. All my friends come to comfort me. I tell them that I’m not okay. I kissed him goodbye, sad warm lips pressed to cold, artificial flesh. I regret it.
Motives emerge and keepsakes vanish into overnight bags. The house is a hive and there are wasps among the bees. What should have been a day of rest was full of decisions good and bad. I packed my bag, still a foundation, upon which others could build their grief.
A caravan rushes south. Josh and his mother come with us. A truck ahead of us lost its load, showering us in loaves of bread. It’s hilarious, and we talk about it when we stop to rest. 500 miles on this farewell tour no one really wants to take.
I concentrate on the organ music while some priest who doesn’t know him and probably never even met him eulogises about his life, about how we’ll go on. I have a great boyfriend, but he’ll be gone soon, too. Summer is coming, the start of a long solo march.