I am beyond exhausted, but I have something I need to do. “Heather can you take me to his grave?” I see the concern etched on her face, but she doesn’t argue. We pull out of the attorney’s office parking lot and head to the cemetery. I haven’t gone to see Lance’s grave, yet. I haven’t mustered the strength to do it, but after remembering his last moments today I need to pay my respects to him. I need to see where he has been laid to rest.
We are silent as we travel through Bozeman. The bright, crisp green grass blurs past my window. The spring grass always seems so much brighter in color than any other time of the year. I wish I could enjoy the beauty of it all, but for the last few days even the brightest colors seem dim and dull.
Heather slows her mid-sized sedan as we pull into the gates to the cemetery—the gates separating the living from the dead. A cold chill runs up my spine. Lance is in here. I scan the gravestones as we slowly drive past them. There are so many headstones … so many family members, friends, loved ones. I feel their loss. Heather stops on the side of the road while my eyes remain on the curvy grass lines of the cemetery. Her door startles me when it closes loudly in such a quiet, surreal place.
“It’s over here.” I nod in understanding as I get maneuvered into my chair. The trek through the grass in a wheelchair isn’t the easiest, especially since it’s wet from the sprinkling rain we’ve had all day. I hear Heather swear under her breath a few times after the abrupt stops from my wheels getting rutted. Thank heavens his grave isn’t too far from the roadside. I feel bad for my sister having to struggle on my behalf … again.
She comes to a stop in front of a fair sized gravestone layered with bright, beautiful flowers. They look fresh. Someone must be keeping fresh flowers on it—probably his mother and sister. The compassion I see with the gesture makes the tears come hard. “Can you push me closer?” Heather complies.
The stone is beautiful, and I’m glad no expense was spared. The encryption reads:
Lance Francis Montgomery
A son that lived as a hero
And a best friend
Let his journey be peaceful
I knew the tears wouldn’t be hidden, coming here. All of my hate, frustrations, and sadness come pouring out with my tears. At my feet lies a dear friend. I miss him so much. I wish I could tell him one last time how amazing he is, or … was. He’s here because I had to leave that damn party. “Lance, I am so sorry I did this to you! It should be me in your place!” I have to wrap my arm around my gut to try to contain the sharp, excruciating pain aching deep inside. “Why?” I yell into the air. I feel Heather’s light touch on my shoulder, but she says nothing. She knows that I need to get this out. I hate that I’m unable to pull myself together, but I just can’t get past the fact that somehow all of this is my fault. I feel responsible for the death of a human life. I don’t know that I will ever be able to move on from that.
I don’t want to leave, but the trickling spring rain has turned into a down pour. Both of us are soaking wet when we get back to the car.
“Nikki, are you ok?”
I know that it’s not Heather’s fault that she wants to make sure I’m alright, but I am so sick and tired of people asking me if I’m alright. No, no I am not alright. I am losing my freaking mind. I have lost so much in such a short time, and I don’t know that I can rebuild from this.