Journal,  Memoir,  Non-Fiction

On the Hill

Cool prairie wind blows strands of hair across my brow. We are surrounded by people. Some I know and some I don’t. Their wet eyes are on us. Across the field is the tallest hill in sight. When he brought me here to meet his family for the first time, he told me they all called it Big Ben. 

Six of his friends, friends I chose, lift him up. Their faces are grim, their steps precise. The glossy finish of the box matches the espresso floorboards in our home. The bundles of wheat are from the family farm. The flowers are blue like his favourite shirt now a shroud beneath the lid. Yesterday I tucked a newborn-sized onesie, just outgrown, in the box with him. It says Daddy’s Best Friend. I tried not to think of how cold it was while they laid the box over six feet of removed earth. I tried not to think of how lonely it would be up here on the hill. 

Every mourner is silent. A breeze like a whisper rustles wheat fields in waves toward the horizon. I hold our son closer and kiss the top of his head. People are dabbing their faces with frozen tissues. They are waiting for us. My eyes never leave him. My love, forever entombed. Finally, my heavy feet and heart move forward. I place my palm on the perfectly polished surface. A tear magnifies and darkens the wood for a moment before rolling away. I want to scream until I can’t breathe. I want to cut out my heart and bury it with him. My fingers tremble. Goodbye.

We go back every so often, just our son and me. Happy Birthday, Happy Father’s Day, Merry Christmas my Love. The soil has settled. He has a stone to mark his place, his name carved hard and final with the date everything changed. With each visit our son grows taller and asks more questions about his father. I show him photos and tell him stories while we sit up there on the hill, with the wind in the wheat fields blowing our hair.

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