“Promise me, John.”
Her last three words to me, now perfectly preserved on this soft, scented paper.
I carefully fold the letter back along its creases, and gently return it to its waiting envelope, staring blankly for a moment at my name and address on the front, noticing again how delicate and beautiful her handwriting was.
The loose gravel crunches softly underneath the heavy wheels of this perfectly pristine limousine, bringing me slowly back to the present.
The car slows to a silent stop, as a sombre parade of black umbrellas emerge in unison from several vehicles either side of us.
I grab the door handle, slowly push open the heavy door and step out into this very different world I now find myself in.
A strong, earthy smell lingers in the damp afternoon air, one of heavy rain and fresh cut grass. My head spins slightly, as a torrent of memories flood my mind – of summer evenings after the rains had passed, working away diligently in our new back garden, watching a little hurricane of speckled blonde hair and freckles, dancing around in my muddy old garden boots…
From my side, a soft little voice whispers –
“It’s going to be ok, Dad”, as her small hand slips gently into my trembling palm.
I squeeze it tightly, and we both make our way slowly up the winding cemetery path, towards the gathering crowd.