Emma Campbell walked along the quiet street of the small town she grew up in, it had been five years since she had been there. Shelton Colorado was a small country town in the Rocky Mountains, she had spent her whole life there, went to high school, fallen in love, had a baby, but that was all before the fire that took everything away from her. It had been Thanksgiving and she had gone out to see a friend before their big meal at her in-laws house. Her husband Alex and their two year old son Oliver had been at their house finishing a few things before heading over to his parents house.
There had been an electrical short the fire marshall had told her afterwards. Alex and Oliver had been trapped in the house and had been killed. She couldn’t bear to stay after they were killed and she had moved away to L.A., she was a freelance writer so moving was not a big deal for her work. She had been working on making a move from freelance articles to author until the fire.
She had been avoiding coming back to Shelton, but her in-laws had been asking her to come for the holidays ever since she left and this year her father had passed away,leaving her the family log cabin that was just outside of town. Now she was back and needed to decide what to do with the cabin. So far all she had done was walk in the door and put her bags down. She couldn’t bring herself to walk through the halls and rooms that were now dark and empty. She supposed she would sell the place.
She walked off the main road and took the path she was trying to avoid but her feet seemed to be headed in that direction without any help. The graveyard loomed in the distance. The final resting place of her husband, son and now her father. The tears ran down her face as soon as she crossed the threshold of the graveyard. She walked through the rod iron gates and down the rows of headstones until she came to one with a lamb on the top of it, marking a child’s grave.
“Oliver my little man!” She cried to herself. “I should have been there with you!”
“You would have died too Emma.” came a voice behind her.
She turned to see the priest of the local church walking towards her. “Father Dobson. I didn’t know anyone was out here.” she said, trying to clear her tears away.
“No need to hide the tear, dear child. You have every right to be sad and upset.” the good Father said as he came closer. “I saw you coming up the path and thought you could use a friend.”
“Thank you Father.” she replied. She turned back to the graves. “I still feel like I failed them. As if there was something I could have done to save them.” she admitted.
“I saw the house and the report dear, there was nothing you could have done. You would have been trapped and killed right alongside them.” he said calmly “I feel that our good Lord still has plans for you child.”
Emma didn’t want to insult the Father but she had stopped believing in the”Good Lord” when he took her small son from her. She only nodded and turned to Alex’s grave. “He was a good man, and a good father.” the tears started to flow down her cheeks again. This was the first time she had come back since the funeral. She always knew she should have come back sooner but she just couldn’t make herself come until now.
She stood and looked at the two gray headstones. Alex’s had the firefighters symbol on his and Oliver had a lamb on his. The firefighter and the child. “It’s just not fair!” she said “Why did Alex and Oliver have to die? Why did I live?” she asked through more tears. “I am so sorry honey, I was selfish wanting to go to Sarah’s house before heading to your parent’s house. It was Thanksgiving and I should have been with my family.” she said quietly.
Father Dobson came to stand next to her, taking her hand in his. “Dear Child, The Lord must believe that you have not served your full purpose here, you have more to accomplish.” he said quietly.
Emma’s voice turned angry “and Oliver had already served his purpose? He was only two! How could he have already served his purpose.” he said through angry tears.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways.” said Father Dobson. “We don’t always know why these things happen.”
Emma continued to stare at the two gravestones as if they would give her the answers that she needed. The graveyard was silent, even the wind seemed to keep quiet. She took the silence and a deep lung full of the crisp mountain air before walking forward placing her hands on the two gravestones. “Goodbye my loves. I know I have to find a way to live without you and I thought that moving away and starting over would make it easier. However, now I realize that I have only been running away from the pain instead of dealing with it. I guess my father finally was able to prove me wrong on that fact. I kept telling him I was fine and dealt with the loss just fine. He was right and it took losing him to realize it. I’m sorry and I will always love you both.” She placed a small kiss to each of her palms before placing them back on the gravestones.
She then made her way through the graveyard to the corner where her mother was buried, her father was supposed to be put next to her. Sure enough she found a new grave right next to her mother. “Hi dad.” she said “I know it took me a little longer to get here that I had planned, but I finally made it. I will miss our Sunday evening phone calls and even our arguments. You were always there for me, even when you were dealing with your own pain. I’m sorry I didn’t come when you asked me to, I would have been there for you at the end. No surprise that you were right on the reason I didn’t come, but I guess you get the last laugh though. You finally got me back here.” She then made the same motion, placing a kiss to the stone before saying “Goodbye Dad, I love you and I know mom is happy to be back together with you.”
Father Dobson walked Emma to the edge of the graveyard before heading back to the church on the hill while Emma took the path back to the main street of town.