My first short story post here...please be gentle. Just kidding...be brutally honestly.
A few years ago, while attending the wake for my friend Rob's father, who had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I noticed Rob's son Avery, who
was about 5 years old at the time, standing in a corner of the room, quietly, taking it all in, glancing every once in a while at the casket. He
looked so lost and so sad in the way he had distanced himself from everybody. At friend and family gatherings like this, Avery would typically be in
pawpaw’s lap or tagging along as pawpaw heading for the fishing dock to check out how the fish were biting.
All the adults were busy talking, some crying, most caught up in their own thoughts or in comforting Avery’s two little sisters and the various
other grandchildren or pawpaw’s wife. Avery’s big brother was sitting with his friends, my own son among them, and seemed to be okay for the
moment. As I walked over to Avery, thinking, wishing there was something that could ease his pain, my hand went in the side pocket of my blazer, and I
subconsciously started feeling the piece of amethyst I kept with me as a touch stone, to help me think and calm me down, and I was never without it.
I wondered if maybe he just needed this alone quiet time and whether I should even head over there. And I thought about how it must feel to him. His
first funeral. The dead body of a man he loved and idolized laying in a box. Maybe not quite understanding what happened next or what this all really
meant. I remembered my first experience with death and a funeral at the age of 17, also my grandfather’s, and how that felt. Overwhelming. Sad. As
if someone had just suddenly shut the lights out and left us all in the dark. As I pulled up a chair and sat down next to where he was standing, he
looked over and could see a little tear forming at the corner of his eye.
“Hi,” he murmured, as he wiped away the tear.
“Hi, Avery. I’m so very about your pawpaw,” I said, “I know you’re going to miss him very much.”
“I already do,” he replied quietly. “Who’s going to teach me to fish?” And with that he came over and sat down next to me. “I don’t know
why he had to die now.”
“I don’t either, sweetie. It really never makes sense. All we can do is be happy pawpaw was here for the time we had him and remember him forever
in our hearts, right?”
“I’m not happy. There’s so many things I still need tell him,” Avery said. “Now there’s no way I can.”
“You can still talk to him, Avery,” I said.
“No, I can’t. He’ll be gone. They’re going to put him in the ground. It’ll be dark there and lonely. He won’t hear me.”
There wasn’t really any comeback to that, was there? To a five-year old, that was about the size of it. A hole in the ground. Dark. Maybe heaven,
like his mom told him? “He’ll hear you in heaven, wherever you are,” I replied.
“Yes. Maybe he will. But I want to talk to him now.”
Well this wasn’t helping, and I was clearly more than useless, so we sat there in silence for a while, each lost in our thoughts, the noises in the
room and people swirling around us. My hand once again went to the stone in my pocket. Unconsciously, I pulled it out and stated turning it over and
over between my fingers, and then I noticed Avery looking at it. “What’s that?” he asked, when I looked over at him.
“It’s a magical stone,” I answered, “It helps me with things. Do you think maybe it could help you too?” I handed it over to him.
“How?” he asked as he took the stone and started examining it.
“Well,” I replied, “Magical stones can do all kinds of things. Whatever you want or need them to do. Tell you what...remember when you said you
had so much to tell pawpaw? And how it would be dark where he was going?”
“What if you could give this stone a message for pawpaw? “
“Well you could go outside with it and sit under the moon and talk to pawpaw. Tell him the things you really, really want to say to him one more
time. Tell him you love him and will never forget him? How would that be?”
“And you could kiss the stone and give it to pawpaw so he can take it with him.”
“Sure,” I said, “why not?”
“I could put it in the box with him? They won’t take it away?”
“No, they won’t take it away. Pawpaw can take it with him. To remind him of you. To always have your words with him and your light.”
“I’ll be right back.”
I watched as he made his way across the room and out to the front porch steps. A little boy with a mission that was tugging at my heart. He sat there
for a while, looked up at the sky, and then started whispering to the stone. It took a while, and there was some wiping of the eyes, but finally he
was done. As he came back in, he was looking a little tentative, and by the time he made it back to me, I realized why. “Ready to give the stone to
“Yes. Am I allowed to?”
“Yes you are. People are allowed to go over to say goodbye and even to give him things like a kiss or a stone. Walk over to him and tuck it in so he
has it always.”
“Well you could put it in his hands or near his ear. Make sure you tuck it in good so that it doesn’t fall out.”
“Okay, I will,” and with that he made his way over to the casket. He climbed up the kneeling steps, and whispered something I couldn’t hear, and
then he placed the stone near pawpaw’s ear and kissed him. During this time, his mom looked over at me with a questioning look on her face.
“It’s okay…tell you later,” I mouthed back. She nodded and watched too.
Avery came back over and said, “I did it,” and for the first time that night there was peace in his face.
I smiled back and said, “Good job. Now pawpaw and you have a special connection forever, right?”
“Yes,” he said, and then he wandered off, and it was time to go.
The next day at the burial, when the service was over and the words were said, just after the handfuls of dirt and flowers were done being thrown over
the casket and everyone was making their way back to the cars, Avery came over and took my hand to walk. “My stone is there with pawpaw,” he said.
“Yes, it is, Avery. Fovever,” I answered.
“Good , ” he said, and smiled.
About a week later, Avery’s mom called me. When I answered the phone, she said, “Thanks.” That’s all. Just thanks.
I asked, “Um, for what?
“For the stone.”
And, unfortunately, in the volunteer work I do, sometimes kids die. After the experience with Avery, let’s just say, quite a few whispered stones
have made their way to heaven.
[edit on 8/17/2010 by ~Lucidity]