Joyful Mourning

It had been a long time since we’d heard laughter.

A whispered joke or amusing memory was the best we usually got. Sorrowful sobbings, solemn silences, and lonely lamentations endured as the usual fare.

Two jovial guests frolicked in the green, giggles revitalizing the infinite monotony.

They snickered at the phallic nature of my neighbor’s name, one I found quite silly as well. I could hear his grumbles of feigned irritation, the typical response he had given in life, however we all knew he thought it just as funny. Our bellies chuckled along.

One guest wandered on; the other remained, brushed a leaf off my tombstone, and read my name aloud.

It had been a long time since anyone had visited me.

For just a moment, I felt alive again.

Warmth flowed through my fingers, breath eddied in my chest, my heart pumped life. Earthly needs and wants infused my consciousness, swiftly lacerated by fears and doubts. Oh, the Great Paradox.

I remember my last temporal thoughts: worries for my wife, our son’s presence in the room, vague awareness of his hand as it squeezed around mine. My wife’s unsteady voice carried my favorite song. I clutched onto her words when the darkness took my sight.

Even when detached, I hovered, holding onto her tone. It swaddled me like a warm blanket. She told me it was okay to let go. Her voice was so beautiful, I didn’t want to stray.

I heard people moving, shuffling. Chair legs rumbled across the floor that my hands had laid so long ago. Someone, our son I think, said my breathing had stopped. I beheld no need to take in air. No pain, no bodily complaints. I didn’t need to remain attached.

Releasing my hold, I drifted towards the ceiling.

The last thing I heard, my wife whisper, “I love you.”

My funeral was a dismal affair. One by one they all left. I waited alone with the dog.

It had been a long time since we’d heard laughter.

“I wish I knew his story,” the new guest now said and plucked a twig and another leaf from my tombstone.

It reminded me of my mother gently removing sticks and grass from my hair after playtime. I wished I could tell the guest of my childhood, how my mother baked the best pies, and her songs in the dark after supper, lulling us to sleep at the end of a hard day. I wished I could tell her of my reckless adolescence, the time I almost rode off a cliff, the secret rendezvous under the moon, hot breath and searching hands. I wanted to tell her about the day I became a husband, the day I became a father, and the wonder of grandfatherhood. I wished I could impart the lessons of a life lived fearlessly.

I could hear a visitor weeping softly a few rows down. The wind changed, replacing sound with scent, the same as my wife’s: flowers and honey.

It had been a long time since anyone had visited me.

My family moved on to another place, different obligations, work seemed so important. I ground away so hard, but in the end I wondered what I had sacrificed so hard for. I had missed laughter and memories with family. Regret pestered me like fat, lazy flies on a stifling summer day. I wanted to caution her, always choose love. I longed to prevent her from wishing, like I did.

They moved on and the feeling of life went with them, like headlights from a jalopy as it dissolved out of sight around a corner.

The guests commented on my neighbor’s brief span of years. She giggled as they tickled her with their respectful fingers, clearing tall weeds away.

We were alone again. I felt myself smile. It was a good day.

It had been a long time since we’d heard laughter.

Published by karaluna

Kara was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, in a tiny town, Sequim, Wa. The closest mall was two and a half hours away in Silverdale, Seattle a ferryboat ride away. She spent her childhood playing in the woods, exploring her imagination, and learning to be a mechanic from her father. Creative writing was always an outlet. She started a career as a motorcycle mechanic, to later find she wanted to try something else. After several career changes, she finds herself yet again on the road with only the journey ahead. She writes whenever she can. She has been published in her previous work’s newsletter, The Healthy Heron.

2 thoughts on “Joyful Mourning

  1. Wow this goes well with your photos hun I found myself being two characters in the story

    Well done hun ❤️❤️❤️❤️👍

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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