narrative - 6th september 2015 - 9:06am
The last time Beth had visited that location, she could see her breath. Snow had blanketed the ground, not leaving much to see on each gravestone except a last name. She had waited in the car for a while, the heat turned all the way up, as Pete sat on the snowy ground and talked to his mum. She had felt spectacularly out of place, considering she wasn't one to visit gravesites. She wasn't one to show emotion regarding the dead. She hardly spoke about her own parents, much less visited them. But, Pete had brought her round and she had obliged, being there for her husband in his time of need. She'd gladly do it again in a heartbeat, sure that it wouldn't be the last.

Beth had needed to google the location, to make sure her memory was serving her right, and it was. Again, there she sat in her car, this time the air conditioning cranked up all the way, as she stared at the plot. She'd never done this for her own parents, but somehow felt a need to visit his mum. Still, it made her nervous, as if she was meeting his mum for the first time. In a way, she sort of was; she'd never actually spent one-on-one time at her grave, and the time she'd had with his mum's cookbooks had been valuable, but still not the same. She was living through those handwritten recipes and hand-drawn pictures...but she was physically right there. As Beth stood, the realisation of his mum being physically there, just some handful of feet below, she had a hard time wrapping her head around the situation. And yet, it was very clear. She sat on the ground, resting her back against the backside of the grave marker. She couldn't face her, and didn't want to sit on the ground where she lay, so back-to-back it was. She looked down at the phone in her hand, and hit play on the music -- The Commodores began to play. She inhaled slowly, then let out a long sigh.

"This was my dad's favourite song." It felt incredibly silly to be talking aloud to no one in particular. She didn't know if Pete's mum was listening, or even there at all. She didn't know if she believed in spirits being around, or the afterlife, or anything. She had always lived her life day by day, enjoying it while she was alive. She'd avoided the subject after the passing of her parents. "I imagine you might've enjoyed it as well," she added, looking down as she placed her phone on the ground. She extended her legs out in front of her, crossing her ankles, feeling the warm sunshine peek through the trees.

Beth's head rested back on the top of the grave marker, and she closed her eyes. "You raised a stupendous young man," she began, feeling her short curly hair fall away from her face. "He's a twat at times--pardon my mouth--but it's all in jest. The amount of times he's been there for me when I've needed him, even in the smallest of ways...I don't know where I would be without him. I can't think about it." She felt something on her face, and she reached up--tears. She huffed a little to herself--why was it she always cried when it came to Pete and his mum?--and then wiped at her eye with the back of her wrist. "I love your son, very very much. He's been everything I've needed, even when I didn't know I needed it, and most certainly when I didn't deserve it. Of course, my parents would have shat themselves if they knew he and I married during a drunk trip to Las Vegas, but... I don't know. Something tells me you would've just accepted me in like your own. I just... I wish..." She hiccuped a little, her breath catching in her chest. "I wish I'd had the opportunity to meet you, just once," she squeaked out, her voice getting higher. The one time in her life she'd finally felt loved, and appreciated, and wanted, and needed... the one time she'd have wanted to finally meet the parents, as it were... she couldn't. That fact had bothered Beth for some time, but she hadn't vocalised it, not even to Pete.

She let out a huff, clearing her throat and wiping away the new tears. (Thankfully she'd thought to not wear mascara that day.) "Anyhow, thank you. You've made a profound change in my life, without even meeting me. I'm forever grateful." She sat in silence for a few seconds, then picked up her phone and stood up away from the ground. She plucked up the dried-up flowers from in front of the marker, setting out new white lilies. Then, she touched the grave marker one last time before walking away. She had a husband to return to.