Yesterday we went to the graveyard.
I brought home flowers. Tulips, actually. Because they were pretty. And it was pouring, pouring hard and windy but we didn't want to wait so we clutched umbrellas and stood there in drumming-down rain, listening to the roaring river and staring at the two smooth stones that are all that's left of the last generation. The children were quiet and stood close so I said a few things: Remember how Papa would laugh and laugh at jokes? I miss his laugh and Rosey's floodgates opened and she told the quiet rock how the last year has been, what she's been doing and how she's a big girl in school now and that she misses her Papa, misses him all the time. And that she wishes she'd known her Nanny May but she'd meet her someday. When she's old. In heaven. But not now.
I looked at her, expecting to see tears, but instead saw my growing-up-straight-and-tall girl in dark jeans and a pink coat, a red umbrella over her head and a sheaf of white tulips clutched to her chest, big eyed and smiling at her memories. My boy rocked back into me and burbled a bit before giving a mighty sucking-back sniff and saying 'I miss you, Papa' and a 'Hi, Nanny' while laying a sheaf of ruffly yellow parrot tulips on her grave.
The flowers lay there on the sodden gravestones, looking tropical and summer-sweet and cheerful against all that gray and wet and rainy grass. We stood there for a few minutes while Miss Rosey told her Nanny about her friends and her dog and her Lucy-cat and Cass leaned back into me for comfort and looked around at the cornerstones of the family plot.
I was suddenly and rudely aware that my umbrella was sending a cold river down my back into my skirt.
The wind picked up and blew R's cherry red umbrella inside out, and I took that as an excuse to herd everyone back to the car.
Driving away, Cass looked back and exclaimed that he could see the tulips from the road.
'Did Nanny like yellow?'
Sorry, sweetheart. I never met Nanny May. But she liked pretty things. And I know she loves those flowers, because they're from you.
'Okay, then,' he said, shaking off any sadness and swinging effortlessly back to his normal happy self.
'What's for supper?'
And I swear I heard Free chuckle.....
(My car still smelt high and sweet from those yellow tulips this morning! It was lovely.)