The Oaks of Athabasca

The Oaks of Athabasca COMING SOON

18:35 Amelia Legend 0 Comments

There is a melancholy that lives within a person’s soul in the wake of tragic death. The death of hope. The death of a future. The death of a lover. What happens when you are the reason for that death? What if it's your fault?

What if?

I take a deep breath and close my eyes at my heart's silent question while haunted by his face. His black hair perfectly combed and styled, not one strand out of place. Every day the same, every day pristine; the way he liked all things. I picture his crystal blue eyes, startling in their intensity. Piercing in their strength, set beneath a strong brow. I lived captured by the attention of those eyes for so many years I'd grown accustom to their power.

A sudden nudge to my shoulder startles me immediately dissolving my clouded thoughts, bringing me back to my present circumstance.

If a person could die of guilt, I just might, and I know deep down I deserve to feel this way; because death can occur a thousand different ways, in a hundred thousand moments of brokenness. The death of love, for instance. The death of a life imagined that suddenly no longer exists.

The death of a dream long since faded from memory that somehow echoes painfully in your soul. Forgotten, but never lost.

... and it's all my fault.

My eye's snap open as a new wave of grief engulfs me. I look around at the procession within the small church as if someone could have possibly overheard my darkened thoughts. I find myself momentarily afraid that someone had. I shake my thoughts away more forcefully this time as I wipe away the stray tear that somehow had escaped my eyes.

My momma squeezes my hand softly thinking it will bring me comfort, but all I feel is shame. Guilt. I let my eyes wander to all the grave faces that attend my young husband’s funeral. Some of those faces are crying. Some sit stoic in their grief, whether or not it is sincere is unknowable. Others whisper, “How sad it is to see such a young man die” and in a small country town such as Athabasca the news of Fredrick's death is a downright wildfire.

What a shame,” they say. “What a cruel trick of fate,” they whisper.

It was a cruel trick indeed.

I move on to my weeping mother-in-law as she mourns the death of her only child. A woman who is usually so poised, so contained, has even fallen victim to hysteria. And as I watch her tears I realize I feel nothing for her. I feel almost empty at the thought of this mother losing a beloved child.

Because I remember that night I went to her crying.

I was looking for answers, but all I got were her hushed words and a cold boot out the door. Her glass house filled with secrets and empty words ... a facade. But as numb as I feel I suddenly find myself wiping away an onslaught of fresh tears.

One would think I would have no tears left. One would think they wouldn't mourn for a husband such as mine. One would think ...

Eventually I find myself being lead to the front of the room by my momma. Everyone is staring. Everyone is suddenly hushed as the poor young widow makes her way to the front of the small church. I'm not ready. I silently object as my husband’s regal face comes into view just over the open casket. He would look as if he were merely sleeping if not for his noticeably ashen parlour. I stop in my tracks as I cling to the white flower that somehow found its way into my fingers. Momma nudges me forward.

Mustn't make a scene Natalie,” she whispers.

That’s right. Mustn't make a scene. Natalie the lady. Natalie the debutant. Natalie the young woman who married the son of my esteemed family's lawyer. The young man “With such a bright future”. The perfect young man my parents approved of so well. 

As I step up to the casket, all eyes on Fredrick's young bride, I look at is vacant expression. The corpse in front of me a shell of the man I once love, the man whose death was all my fault. Whose death is an ugly mar on my soul.

God forgive me.

I beg God as I slowly let my eyes rest on the shining platinum ring resting on Fredrick's powdered fingers because although I may not have known what was going to happen that night, I had wished for it every day of our marriage. I wished it in a thousand different ways, a hundred thousand different moments. Over and over until God finally heard my cry ...

I guessed I should have listened when they said, “be careful what you wish for”.

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