5: Tent

The Twilight Twenty-Five
Prompt: #25/Tent

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

It rained the following morning as we made our way to the cemetery. Carmen promised there would just be a short graveside memorial for close friends. Garrett hadn’t been a big church goer and he wouldn’t have wanted a lot of pomp and circumstance.

I stood with the Garrett’s family and my father under a tent that had been put up to keep us out of the weather. Carmen and I had agreed that we didn’t want to see the casket, and certainly not the hole it would be buried in, so several wreaths and flower arrangements served as the focal point near a podium in the corner of the tent.

The covered area filled with people, and yet they continued to come. Mourners stood in the rain around the tent. It was overwhelming to me to see how many people came to show their respects. Eventually the minister from Carmen and Zar’s church started to speak and the murmuring of the group quieted.

“Thank you all for joining us. We gather today to say goodbye to our friend Garrett Denali, beloved friend, son, brother and husband. Having known Garrett since he was a boy, I share in your grief and …”

My mind wandered then and, not for the first time since my husband’s death, I began to question my place with his family and the community that clearly knew and loved him. I’d had two amazing years with Garrett, but what did that compare to the twenty-some years he’d spent with these people? His friends, his parents’ friends—hell, even the lady at the coffee shop—they had all spent more time with my husband than I had.

The minister finished speaking and there was a brief silence before I heard someone clear their throat. When I looked up, Edward had moved behind the podium. He unfolded a piece of paper and flattened it before taking a deep breath.

“The family asked me if I wanted to speak today and at first I thought I didn’t, I couldn’t, but I realized that I needed to, because Garrett would have wanted it.

“Saying goodbye to him has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He was my best friend and, for all intents and purposes, my brother. I always imagined that someday I would stand in front of a group like this talking about him, but it was never like this… I thought I would be his best man and tell funny stories to embarrass him in front of our friends and his new wife.”

Everyone laughed and he smiled sadly. I wiped tears from my eyes, realizing again just how much Edward had lost as well.

He heaved a sigh and continued. “But Garrett got married in Italy, so I never gave that speech. I can honestly say today, though, that I am glad that he found Bella, and that he didn’t wait to marry her. Despite being taken from us too soon, Garrett lived well and was loved and that’s really all a man can ask for.”

He paused and looked out at the mourners, running a hand through his hair before he continued.

“His passing should teach us all to live each day like it’s our last. Please, take the time you need to mourn him and to say goodbye, but know that he wouldn’t want us to dwell on his death. I think he would want us to go on and make memories that we can tell him about when we meet again.”

He refolded the paper in front of him and tucked it into his pocket as Zar moved to stand beside him. They embraced for a second, murmuring words too quiet for anyone else to hear, then Edward took a step back and Zar was behind the podium.

“Thank you all for coming today. There are so many things I could tell you about Garrett, about how much we love him and will miss him, but I know you feel the same; it’s why you’re here.”

Again, I got caught up in my thoughts. I felt like all of these people knew Garrett in some way that I didn’t, like I’d missed the opportunity to know all of my husband. There were so many things that I didn’t know about his life, so many stories that we hadn’t shared.

When I looked up the minister had taken Zar’s place. I hadn’t even realized he had finished speaking, but that was par for the course since Garrett’s death. Most of what people said to me drifted in like a fog and I caught bits and pieces of it.

I recognized the phrases of the Lord’s Prayer and began to recite it along with the group. My mouth moved automatically but the familiar words brought no comfort. When the prayer concluded, he invited everyone back to the house on behalf of the family and it was over.

The rain had mostly stopped, there was only a light mist falling, as the crowd thinned out and headed for the farmhouse. I stayed rooted there, staring at the picture of Garrett in the center of a giant wreath. It was red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag. I wondered who had picked it out and if they’d done it on purpose. It was a ridiculous thought, but it was a better option than thinking about the fact that this was really goodbye. I knew he was already gone, but walking away from his family plot was so final.

Tears streamed down my face and my breathing picked up as I thought about my future. What was I going to do without him? My entire life had been turned on its head when I married him, all of my dreams had shifted to include him the family we would start. And now everything we planned was just gone. I felt lost and more alone than I ever had.

“Everything will be okay.”

A hand rubbed my shoulder and when I looked up I realized Edward and I were the only people left under the tent. My father was talking with Kate and Tree over by their cars, but it looked like everyone else had left.

His words only made me cry harder and I shook my head.

“It will. It will take time, but you’ll be alright.”

“No, I don’t even know where to start,” I shook my head and my chest started to feel tight. “I feel like I didn’t know him. Who were all of these people? What did he mean to them? We had two years, but all of these people…you all knew him his whole life. I missed so much, and now I’ll never know. I can’t-”

“Bella, stop. This is a small town. When you live in Forks you know everyone, but you don’t necessarily know them. The two years you had with him—you were closer to him than any of us could ever be, even Carmen. You knew his heart. You were his heart. That’s all that matters. The rest of it? The little things we did growing up here? I can show you all of that.”

“You can? You would do that?” I almost couldn’t believe him. He’d blown me away with his generosity over the past few days and it just never seemed to stop. I wasn’t sure I could ask any more of him. “I mean, you lost him too; I don’t want to make you think about painful memories.”

He sighed. “It’s not like I won’t be thinking about him all of the time anyway. It’s going to be a difficult year; why don’t we try to get through it together?”

“Will you tell me why you think you were a bad friend?”

He looked away, licking and then biting his lower lip before meeting my gaze and answering. “Yeah, but not today.”

I nodded, completely understanding. Neither of us seemed to have made it through the memorial very well and we still had to go back to the house to face everyone. I wasn’t sure how much more I could take today, but with him by my side I thought maybe I could do it.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

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