When I close my eyes and see deep into myself, I find a house. It's old and fading; no one's taken care of it for so long. The paint is peeling. The cement steps are cracking and chipping from neglect. I notice all of this while walking closer, past the picket fence that should have been perfect, and the tree from my childhood.
Just walking closer makes my heart hurt. The screen door hangs slightly ajar. I open it slowly and walk inside. It's the house of my dreams, the future I longed for as a child, but everything's gone terribly wrong.
I walk up a flight of stairs which creak all the while. When I get to the farthest room upstairs, there it is, what I've come for. I stare at the rocking chair and sigh because sitting on the cushion is a huge book.
That book calls to me. It has a big leather binding and all of the words are written by hand. I sit in the rocking chair and breathe deeply. I'm about to do it again, read those words, some that haunt me, most that bring peace. But after opening the book, a searing pain goes up my arms. It burns, so hard to hold and go through again and again.
My eyes gaze out the window. Why am I doing this to myself? Why?
I read then, for hours. The words rip through me because the book has power over my soul. Everything in it is true--the good--the bad--written for me to always remember. It's bittersweet, just how truth is.
Then, when I finish reading the book, that isn't enough, and I push my hand into the cover. Every word seeps into my soul so I won't forget. They fill my mind with such a burden. I know it could help others, because once it helped me, but I've been through it too many times to bear. I carry the book, and notice my very hand print has been burned into the cover.
The book gets heavier as I carry it. I can't stop though, because those words bring my son back--the one I lost. I feel him walking in the damn house--the one that used to fill my dreams. We walk together. He's in a different realm, but I know we can feel each other as long as I have that book.
As we walk, the book gets so heavy, I can hardly carry it. Before long, I have to drag and push it along.
I know where to go though; my boy's spirit is calling me, motioning me out of the decrepit front door and to the base of the tree.
I think about giving up. I swear it's too hard pressing along. "But it's your destiny," a voice whispers in the wind. "You can't give up now. You can't."
"But this is too much! How many times do I have to relive it!"
I place a fist against the beating of my heart.
My hand's bleeding, the same one that's burned into the cover. And before I can run from the place and leave my son's memory behind, I feel a thousand people lifting me up. They remind me of angels, and their kindness gives me hope.
I pick myself up and the book isn't quite so heavy. My eyes scan ahead as I get closer, realizing the tree doesn't seem dead like before; its bark isn't frozen with pain.
My body nearly crumples, kneeling under the branches and digging my hands into the dirt. It's cold there--so cold. But I know I'm meant to be there since it's where my son was buried.
I tuck my hair behind my ears, and blood stains a bit of my cheek. Little things don't matter anymore as fate is guiding me. My son's memory--his love that will never leave me--is guiding me.
I take the book that hurts so bad, filled with pain and so much hope. My shaky hands take it and push it into the ground.
I pull a note from my pocket then, it's something I've carried for years even though I almost forgot it was there.
"Written for Zeke," the note says. "Because you'll never be forgotten."
"And to whoever comes to this house, looking for peace, looking for memories of a future that wasn't meant to be, please keep my book."
I nod after reading it. "Part of my soul rests here along with the soul of my son."
The note folds back nicely. I'm crying by that time, feeling so happy; my son's spirit is there and his joy pours through me.
The note remains, gently placed on the book. I stand and the crazy tree above me is green, filled with leaves and newly blooming growth.
A smile brightens my face when I look at my hand and realize the blood is gone. The house at my back, doesn't look neglected anymore; it's filled with my current life instead of what I'd always thought was meant to be. Four children laugh inside, their antics and pleasures beyond understanding. A new little boy and girl rock in the rocking chair. Their joy and faces shine through the window as they giggle with their older siblings.
Seeing it all seems surreal, like a blessing no one deserves, especially me.
I turn then. The book isn't forgotten in that moment, it never will be even if it's finally where it's meant to rest.
Happy to move on and accept my life, I walk toward the house again.
Before I completely make it though, a huge group of people catch my eyes in the distance. Some of them are grandfathers, grandmothers holding babies, some are children, young men or women, fathers, mothers--siblings. They're all smiling . . . all laughing as they shoot the bull.
They watch me after a moment, waiting to see what I'll do because they know I've heard their stories--through you . . . through your generosity. And at the very front of the group is Zeke, my boy. He's so proud of me--of all of you. He's about nine, healthy, waving and nodding because his purpose has finally been fulfilled in a way only he could hope. He's holding a copy of my book, hugging it tightly like it represents our love, and he'll never let it go.
He waves one last time and then all of them fade, walking away to their own destinies in the afterlife.
I'm too amazed to move. Seeing them happy. For one day their spirits united in a common cause--they're spirits came together just as ours did.
Tears of joy run down my face; it's so bittersweet, and a little overwhelming.
After a moment, I kiss my hand and pat the ground which is Zeke's grave. Then, my feet guide me back toward the house--the same one that suddenly looks like the one we live in now.
My husband and children hug me. "He got my last gift," I tell them. "He got it, they all did, and somehow I know they each remember that they'll never be forgotten."
My husband nods with understanding. He kisses me on the forehead. "Zeke's proud of you," he says, "and so am I."
Closure has come . . . peace at last. The days--years of effort were worth it all.
To those who were lost, but never forgotten, this is for you.
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