It was some days after the funeral, when all the flowers had been gathered up and put on the compost heap that I noticed a new wreath had appeared with a card next to the simple grave marker. It said “with all my love”. I didn’t recognise the writing, but then it might have some florist’s careless scrawl, hastily done with the phone in one hand, scribbling a quick message to fulfil an order.
Still, I was intrigued. I had been to the graveyard every day and had seen nobody. Then again, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, focusing only on my own grief. The truth was that I… the truth was that I was devastated by my own loss. I didn’t care about anyone else and how they might be feeling.
The flowers withered and died so I carefully tidied up the grave. The next day another fresh wreath appeared with the same cryptic message. Again, I had seen nobody approach. The funny thing was the flowers were some of my favourites, in the colours I love. Someone had impeccable taste.
I started appearing earlier and earlier to see if I could catch the mystery donor. I sat on the bench from dawn till dusk, in rain and shine but still didn’t find out who it was. The flowers were regularly replaced and the message never varied: a veritable lesson in constancy. I would have liked to meet the person who cared so much and yet, our paths never seemed to cross.
It was only after a year that I finally found out the truth. The gravestone was replaced on a cold, damp morning. I had forgotten that you have to leave the earth to settle before doing this. On this day a yearning had come over me, a yearning to be close so I hung around, hoping against hope that I would finally find out who was leaving the flowers.
Yes! Someone was coming along the path. A man who looked very familiar, very familiar indeed. He was carrying a wreath which he placed carefully on the grave, touching the headstone gently. He looked unbearably sad, then he spoke.
“Well darling, it’s a year to the day that I buried you. I brought the flowers like I said I would. You know, I miss you so much. Even though we spoke about this when you were in the hospice, I still can’t get over how hard each day has been. If only you were here, so I could hold you once more.”
I wanted to comfort this man and reached for him. Stretching my hands out, they passed right through him. I turned and looked at the headstone in a state of shock. There, in solid black letters was my name and the date of my death.
He shivered, wiping his eyes, turned and walked away. Now it was my turn to cry.