Hello Dear Readers,
Sometimes life imitates art, but more often it's the other way around. As strange as it sounds, what happens to Sara in this chapter happened to me when I was visiting my best friend's grave. Darbi died in a car accident when we were only seventeen, and I thought of her often while I was writing this book. Her death hit me really hard, but I believe what happened that day at her gravesite was her way of letting me know she was okay.
This chapter marks the official end of the book, but there's an epilogue to come next week. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate everyone who has taken this journey with me. All your kind comments and donations have meant so much.
~ Chapter Forty-five ~
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?” Jake asked.
Sara shook her head. “Thanks, but this is something I have to do on my own.”
“Take your time. I’ll wait for you.”
She leaned over to kiss his cheek before getting out of the truck. “I won’t be long.”
The sun shone on her face as she walked toward the cemetery gates, but the wind was cold. Sara studied the trek ahead of her and groaned. No one had bothered to shovel a trail through the snow, and getting to her sister’s grave would be a formidable challenge.
Tessie was buried in a newer area of the cemetery, far away from any trees or shrubs that could have provided shelter from the wind. Her gravestone had yet to arrive from St. Paul, so a simple wooden cross marked her final resting place. T. Martin was written across it in black letters.
Sara hadn’t visited her sister’s grave since the funeral, but she picked her way through the cemetery from memory. Snow drifts rose high as her hips, frosting her jeans with a thick crust. The wind nipped at her face and throat as she continued her hike uphill. She wished she had thought to wear a scarf.
At the halfway point, she was startled to see deep holes in the snow, left by others foolhardy enough to make the same journey before spring. Tessie’s grave was swept clear of snow. The gifts from her many visitors were evident here and there: a rosary twined around the cross, china figurines of horses and puppies, a blue soccer ball.
Shaking from the cold, Sara reached into the inside pocket of her jacket and withdrew Sam Skunk. She placed the little animal on the grave, right below the cross, snuggling him in between two votive candles. Fishing in her pocket for a lighter, she lit the candles and watched them burn a moment.
The air in the cemetery was heavy, as if a thousand spirits were holding their breath, waiting for her to speak.
“I miss you, kid,” she whispered, tears sliding down her cheeks. “Nothing’s the same without you.”
Gradually, Sara realized that she wasn’t cold any longer. A warm current of air drifted around her, protecting her from the brutal wind and thawing her frozen face. She took a step back from Tessie’s grave. The same hostile wind she’d felt before promptly howled in her ears. Quickly, she stepped forward again and was once more embraced by that inexplicable feeling of warmth.
Suddenly, Sara knew that her little sister was at peace.
And maybe … just maybe … she would be one day, too.
We're coming to the end of the road. If you've enjoyed this book, please consider making a donation. Any amount, no matter how small, would mean the world to me.