I packed some more things today and then the phone rang. The voice sounded familiar as we talked. He said it was finished and I said thank-you and goodbye. My stomach started churning. I thought sure I was going to vomit. Everything from the past five months came flooding back to the front of my mind.
I finished what I was doing. I changed my clothes. I grabbed my purse and my camera. As I started the car quiet tears began to fall. I knew I had to keep it together or I would not be able to drive.
I drove the ten minutes and turned the car in between the gates. I drove slowly taking in the atmosphere as if I had entered a different realm beyond this earth. I stopped the car and turned the keys.
Silence came over me. I grabbed my camera and did what I knew I needed to do. Taking the photos and being satisfied with my work I walked back to the car, got in and began to sob.
Everything I had been holding back since March 24th at 8:30am came flooding down my cheeks. I cried like I have never cried. I explained to my brother that I was leaving. I told him how I would never forget him but I must move forward in order to heal. I told my parents hello and I knew that mom especially, was so glad I could pay a visit.
I asked Al to keep his promise to save a spot for me and I almost felt his smile as I gazed down at his new headstone that was completed only hours ago. I knelt by Al and I touched the cold cement, but I knew my heart was warm as I felt the closest to Al I had since his passing.
I promised him I would come back and visit. I promised him that my daughter and son-in-law would look after me as well as he did. I promised him I would laugh one day again.
My job is complete. I cared for my brother with everything I had in me. I made sure he had as good of life and lots of laughter and fun as possible. I kept my promise to myself that he would have a nice funeral. I promised that somehow I would come up with the money for his headstone.
It was never a true job, but it had its ups and downs. I didn’t punch in and out on a time clock as his care never was less than 24/7. It was a job that tested my mental alertness, my devotions, my faith in God. It taught me more about compassion than any other job I have ever held.
As I walked up to my front door I turned around and looked at what I would soon be leaving. I swear I felt God’s arms around me. I know I felt Al’s smile. I love you buddy forever and ever.
Alvin’s new headstone with the coca-cola bottle and red cap
My parents headstone which rest beside Alvin
The clouds that I saw when I turned from my door and looked up.