I stood there in the warm October sun. Numb, staring at the small grave site and the beautiful bouquet of flowers that would soon adorn the top of it. I saw a son kiss his mother for the last time. I saw a daughter hold close the urn that held her mother's ashes with a small gesture that simply said "you will forever be in my heart." I saw a sister kneel, pluck a vibrant flower from the bouquet and place it in the shallow grave. I saw family and friends with tears flowing generously as they held a small handful of sod and gently let it fall. I felt my heart would break into a million pieces. So missed by many, so loved by all, myself included. All of the emotions that so frequently follows death. Anger, love, loneliness, peace, fear and the list goes on. We all felt the same as the person next to us, connected somehow, even with strangers.
As I stood there in the cemetery I couldn't help but take a moment and turn to my right and look up the road a bit. This cannot be, I have been here before. At this nearly exact place. Such a long time ago. Maybe not in this same circumstance, but in the fact of losing a best friend. This same gut wrenching sadness. Can I do this again? Can I go on with life as usual? Yet, I knew that I could. Knew that I would. The irony of it all, the two that I lost, that WE lost, were cousins.
Melba and I were about 7 or 8 years old when her family moved to Bell City. Just a very short distance from where I lived, across an ally way actually. We had a lot in common, and she made me laugh...hysterically! In a few days we had become fast friends. Best friends. Inseparable nearly from day one. We remained best friends throughout our teen years and into young married life, until one night she was taken from this world way to soon. Only about 21 years old. Leaving a very young son behind. My heart was crushed. How could this tragedy happen? It was so hard to except and to understand. One cannot keep from asking the "why's." And now, here I was once again feeling that same loss and anguish as I did on that sad day so many years ago.
Standing there looking up toward her marker, and listening to the final prayer being given by Billie's heartbroken and humble son, I took comfort in knowing that we had lost Melba nearly 40 years ago and she is still very much alive in my heart and memories, I know that Billie will be too. I know that as time passes all of the sadness will turn bittersweet. I know that as long as I have a sane mind, I will always remember Billie's sense of humor, her laugh, that beautiful alto harmony voice that added so much to our singing. The sincere honest person that she truly was. I know that I feel very Blessed to have known Melba and Billie and to have been able to call them both my dear friends. My life would not have been the same without them in it.
Walking back up the old path, I had to stop a moment and look at Melba's gravestone..and just whisper to myself...........".I remember, I will never forget." I glanced back down toward where Billie would lay and whispered again........"always and forever in my heart."
I loved them both so very much.