The Late Rose (4)

Michelle woke up in the middle of the night and saw her mother sitting by the window. She slowly got up and wrapped a shawl around her mother’s shoulders.

“I’ve been sleeping all day, what’s your excuse?”

“That’s not an excuse Inay,” Michelle softly laughed. “You need all the rest you can get.”

“And I am going to get it soon enough,” Aling Miding responded stubbornly.

Beaten, Michelle sat next to her mother and gazed at the sky. She remembered the night when she first arrived; it looked exactly like this.

“I want you to know that everything is going to be alright.”

Michelle was stunned at her mother’s words and could only look at her.  She was not sure what caused this, whether she really knew what was going on as all mother’s do or she was just in actuality reassuring her. She laid her head on her mother’s shoulder and moved closer.

“What if it won’t?”

“It will.  All you have to do is find the place where you belong, not where you think you have to belong and everything will fall into place. Listen to your heart, that’s where God puts all the answers to our questions.”

As Michelle tried to ponder on her mother’s words, an unexpected gust of wind blew into the room.  She felt her mother’s breathing become steady, too steady to be normal.

With her heart beating wildly, Michelle looked up and saw her mother’s face awash with peaceful slumber.

 

The next morning, Michelle went directly to Fr. Martin to arrange her mother’s funeral. The whole day was a blur to her and she felt more like a passive participant than an active observer.

The funeral was set up in one of the church’s rooms.  She was spared from the emphatic looks of people, some of whom were family friends once, as Fr. Martin, and the church volunteers took over almost the entire job. Fr. Martin brought her back to her senses as he gently shook her shoulders and whispered something in her ear. Erik is at the back of the room patiently waiting for her to notice him. She nodded at him in acknowledgement and followed him to the garden.

“Erik, I don’t think this is the right moment—”

“I’m sorry, I know it isn’t but I’ve been up all night thinking about us.”

Michelle held her tongue and waited for him to continue. A part of her wanted him to say that he does not care about her past, that he still loves her but there is also part of her that wanted Erik to say that it is over between them.  That it is never going to work.

“I never had a purpose in life Michelle.  Living in the province does not give you that kind of luxury, but that was only until I realized that I love you. Sure, you’re different now and at first, I did care. You couldn’t really blame me could you? Here I am thinking that you will always be the sweet, pure Michelle that I have cherished, and then you went away and…”

Erik trailed off and appeared to be at a loss for words. Michelle understood.  He was right; how could she blame him when he did nothing wrong but to continue to live in a dream?

“I changed Erik, and it was a mistake but there’s nothing more I can do but to recognize that fact and go on with my life. I’m not asking you to accept me; I know that’s asking too much.”

“I want to give us a chance Michelle; I care a lot for you. You still love me don’t you?”

Michelle looked directly at Erik and hugged him. Her mother’s word echoed through her mind as she closed her eyes and everything became clear.

“Yes, I do love you. That was one thing that never changed.”

 

On the third day of the funeral, Michelle walked beside Erik as she headed the procession to the cemetery.  She was still grieving but she did not cry; tears are only for those who are lost and hopeless, never again will she be one of them.

_______________________________________________________________________

    Arriving home, Michelle quickly searched through her family’s belongings and found what she was looking.  A family picture that was taken five months before her father passed away.  It was taken right after her high school graduation and their faces glowed with love and the promise of a bright future.

She laid the picture on the center table and put the rest of the things that she did not need in a big box.  After that, she went outside to wait for the people who were going to pick up her donations to the church. Presently, she saw a dirty pick-up truck that looked as though it was once white but was now the color of cream due to the dust it had collected through the years. It stopped in front of her and Fr. Martin got out, followed by two seminarians.

“Is this everything?” Fr. Martin asked as he pointed to the box that was positioned at the center of the porch.

“Yes,” Michelle replied as she went to lock the front door of her house. “And no.”

Without saying a word, she handed Fr. Martin a key and a paper that was rolled into a scroll. Curios, Fr. Martin unrolled the paper and stared in disbelief at the texts written there.

Michelle smiled understandingly. “This isn’t a house Father.  This is a home and I want you to find a deserving family that will once again bring life to it.”

Fr. Martin chuckled as he rolled back the title deed and dropped the key in his jeans’ pocket. He opened the front car door and motioned for Michelle to enter.

“Are you sure about this Michelle?”

As an answer, Michelle resolutely climbed in then waited for Fr. Martin to enter in the driver’s side as well as for the two seminarians to settle in the back.

As Fr. Martin started the engine, Michelle took one last look at the home that had once been the source of all her happiness.  Now it will serve as a very treasured memory in her heart.

The End.

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