The Grave- A Prologue
The 4 of us stand next to the fresh grave, still and silent. I am 5, Katie is 4. A metal marker sticks out of the ground. It reads “Ross Allan Richards, Aug 5, 1973.” Mom stand with her head bowed while Dad supports her with an arm around her waist. I can’t take the silence anymore.
“Mom, why did Ross die? Is
going to die too?” Roy
Mom starts to cry. Mom never cries in front of us.
“Girls, go to the car!” my dad exclaims.
Katie and I scramble into the back seat, scared and crying. I just want to know what is going on.
While she was on complete bed rest in the hospital an hour away, Katie and I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Chase. After the boys were born Mom was kept in the hospital specifically to keep her from attending the funeral. When she was released she stayed in and near the neonatal intensive care unit with
Grandma, however, told us that the doctor had made a mistake. There had never been, she said, two babies, just one.
When Mom heard this she was furious. She insisted that Dad take her to us. If he wouldn’t take her she would find a way. I don’t remember her telling us the truth about our brothers but surely she had.
Mom comes back to the car and gathers us in her arms.
”Its okay,” she said “I am just sad. You didn’t do anything wrong. Everything will be okay.”
I don’t remember going to the grave with my mother again during my childhood. I went by myself sometimes as a teenager. I wondered what this unknown brother would have looked and acted like. But I never asked my mom.
Twenty years later we stand at the same grave, freshly opened, to admit another child. As the other mourners leave my husband,
’s stepfather, escorts me to our car. Mom can see that I am barely holding on and sends Dad to help. I collapse into their arms. My mother comes to me and puts her hands on my cheeks. Troy
“Be strong” she said “You have to take care of Sam. Everything will be okay.”
And for awhile it is, at least as long as I follow everybody else’s rules for grieving.
We come to visit as often as we can that summer. If Frank can’t go I take Sam and go by myself. I need to be near
. After we receive orders for Troy , my need becomes more desperate. I feel as if I am deserting him. Germany
When I leave the house my grandmother always asks if I am going to the cemetery. She says I need to stay away from there. I am dwelling on
’s death too much. Troy
She did not understand that I was not dwelling on
’s death. Not specifically anyway. I thought more about his life, and my life and life in general. Troy