I sit by the grave in quiet grief. The peace and tranquillity of this verdant botanical cemetery envelops me like a cocoon. Its serenity is like a healing balm, as I mourn the sudden demise of my only child. I can hardly come to terms with this tragic loss. Thrust upon the cycle of grief, I am angry - why me?
“I feel for you,” says a voice softly, yet strong with compassion. It startles me out of my reverie. I am ill-disposed to being civil at the intrusion, but manage a polite “Thank you.”
My visit to the cemetery is a daily ritual. One morning, as I approach the grave, I notice a beautiful orchid on the tombstone. I am completely overwhelmed with emotion that someone – perhaps a stranger – did such a beautiful gesture. Tears cascaded unabated down my cheeks. I look around. No one is in the vicinity. I notice, however, that a grave nearby has a similar orchid.
Weeks later, as I take a short cut through the cemetery, I notice a man sitting near a grave quite close to where my child is buried. I stop the car. I get out and walk up to him. “Did you put the orchid on my child’s grave?” I ask softly. “Yes,” he answers. “I am deeply touched by your kindness,” I say humbly and leave.
On two further occasions, we exchange pleasantries - two very lonely souls from different walks of life. It’s raining heavily. Umbrella in hand, I am about to leave the cemetery. He is just arriving. He stops me at the rotunda. Our conversation centres on our loved ones. We cry and it’s such a comforting relief.
It’s Father’s Day. I am sitting by my child’s grave when he approaches me. He looks very debonair in a brightly coloured jumper. “Will you have a coffee with me?” he asks. “Yes, thank you” I respond. I don’t know why I accept his invitation - perhaps it is meant to be. “I’ll catch up with you later.” “First, I want to visit my father’s grave,” I say. We confirm the venue and he leaves. Forty minutes later, coffee invitation all but forgotten, I race to the venue. The stranger was still waiting.
Today, ten years later, we have formed a delightful partnership of love and companionship.