It seemed like the right thing to do.
The anniversary of her death day; she’d have thought it perfect.
They’re together again, all of them, but how different life is from then till now.
Joseph carries Ana, it’s her first birthday and the day is a celebration for all. He moves around the gathering of friends and family smiling warmly, shaking hands and embracing. Ana charms with a dimpled smile as Jess and Saul watch from the edge of the crowd smiling proudly.
Raife whistles, two fingers thrust into his mouth, the piercing sound too loud to ignore. Everyone stops and turns and he smiles weaving his way through the small gathering of people. In his hand is a small shrub, its roots bagged in brown sacking, its leaves young and tender.
Joseph lets the wriggling Ana down where she crawls at pace to Raife and the tiny tree. Everyone laughs as she shuffles toward him, smiling and grabbing on to the shrub as though she understands everything. Raife scoops her up beckoning for Jack and Saul to come forward. Saul takes a spade and digs a hole beside Amandine’s hibiscus tree. Jack steps forward, takes the shrub from Raife’s hands and places it gently into the hole.
One by one everyone approaches and carefully deposits a handful of earth into the hole, securing the small shrub, allowing its roots to feel the strength of solid earth around it.
One year since the death of Amandine and the birth of Ana. The perfect time to plant a new tree and give thanks for all that has come before and all that lies ahead.
One by one friends and family lay their handfuls of soil at the base of the small tree. Raife plays her song, Quand le soleil dit bonjour au montagnes. Jess begins to sing to Ana who snuggles close to her mother’s chest. Saul joins, not so much in song but a hum, deep and baritone. The melody spreads like an ocean breeze and soon there is a quiet chorus.
When the sun says hello to the mountains. They sing and Raife plays, and the sound is togetherness. It is memories, time passed. It is a love story of sadness and hope and heartbreak and joy.
Beside him, Billie hums, she doesn’t know the words. Evie pats dirt on to the base of the small tree and Sunny tries to strum the guitar with Raife.
For a moment Jack feels it all, the depths and giddy heights of love and loss, of living and being alive. He leans to her, inhaling the fragrance of her hair, gently kissing the top of her head. Naturally her body moves to his, her weight leaning gently against him. And he hums the words he won’t sing, letting his hand rest on the swell of her belly. She smiles up at him and he’s sure he feels the baby kick.
The shrub is planted and tributes are made, flowers are laid by the hibiscus tree. People drift gradually toward the light and music and cooking smells that emanate from Saul’s house. A celebration of life, of family and friends, of living and dying, of loving and being loved.
The party is here, where the sun says hello to the mountain.
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