Change of Heart - "The Reunion" Prologue

I had a change of heart and decided to post the prologue to my story, "The Reunion".  Due to security issues, this is probably all of the story I'll be able to show, however. Hope you enjoy it!

The Reunion - Prologue

June - Present Year

    The Durango crept along the cemetery road past rows and rows of tombstones, coming to a stop in front of one underneath an ancient weeping willow tree.  A young woman emerged from the vehicle and reached back inside for a bag and the box of plants sitting on the passenger seat.  She shut the door with her leg and carefully made her way over to the tombstone.  Next to it was a bench, and onto this she set her armful of plants.  Then, she reached into the bag for her gardening tools.
    She knelt in front of the tombstone, digging holes and then planting each of the various bunches of flowers in the loamy soil.  Satisfied with her work, she wiped her brow with the back of her hand and settled back in the lush grass.
    Sighing, she thought again about today’s date: June 2.  Had it already been a year?  It didn’t seem possible.  This was the first time she’d been to his grave in months.  She’d last visited eight weeks after the funeral.  At first, she was in no shape to even leave the house, sicker than she’d ever been in her life.  Then, once she’d started feeling better, Cancun experienced the full brunt of a brutal Colorado winter.  She just couldn’t risk an accident on the mountain road between her house and the cemetery--not when she was the only parent they had left.  And then in recent months, she’d been busier than she’d ever thought possible.  No matter how busy things were at home, or how much seeing his beloved name in stone with those two dates below it, she knew nothing would keep her from being here today with him.  On the very worst kind of anniversary.

Andrew Emmitt Darcy  
Safe in the arms of Jesus 

    She ran her fingers lovingly over the name, melancholy once again at the gruesome thought of his life cut so violently short. He’d only been thirty.  So young.  It still didn’t make sense to her.  But did losing a loved one this way ever make sense?  There was no comfort in knowing that she wasn’t the first, nor would she be the last to experience this horror.
    She listened to the wind whispering it’s words of comfort through the leaves on the trees, closing her mind to the memories of that dreadful night.  Not yet.  She was not ready--there were other things to think of first. Using her sleeve to wipe the tears from her eyes, she brushed her hands off and reached once more for the bag. From inside the bag, she carefully pulled out a small box made of marble.  Lifting the lid, she extracted each item one by one.  A picture drawn by her four-year-old son of his interpretation of Daddy singing with the angels in Heaven.  A small plastic bag containing several wispy locks of hair taken from her two-year-old son’s first haircut.  Another plastic bag containing several pictures.  These she removed from the bag and held up, explaining each one.
    “Here’s Emmitt at his fourth birthday party with the toy train set our parents chipped in and bought him.  And here’s Will taking his first steps.”  She flipped through the pictures one by one, each memory more bittersweet than the last.  She would always treasure these special moments with her sons--Andrew’s sons.  They were pieces of him she would have with her forever.  They both even boasted more of his features and appearance than hers.  Yet, she wished once again that it could’ve been different.  That he could’ve been in the pictures, sharing these precious memories with her.
    There were several pictures that had been separated from the others when she’d first removed them from the bag.  These she now took in her hands. 
    “When I was here last, I told you that I suspected I might be pregnant.  Turns out that I was. Andrew, I’d like to introduce you to your little daughter, Andrea,” she said, and held up a picture of a tiny infant wrapped in a pink blanket.  “I named her after both of us--Andrea Grace.”  One by one, she held up several pictures of their daughter taken at various stages in her short four months of life.  “She was conceived that morning....that morning we were together for the very last time.  She was my very last gift from you, my love.”  A daughter.  When Will was born, they’d talked about trying once more for a little girl.  While he loved his sons, Andrew had always wanted a little girl who would be “Daddy’s little girl”.  And of course, she had dreamed of having someone to dress up and show off.  Now, they finally had a daughter.  A daughter her husband would never hold close to his heart.  A daughter without a father to walk her down the aisle when she married.
    It was still incomprehensible to her.
    She returned the pictures to the bag, gently lay them in the box with the other mementos, and then placed the box behind the flowers up against the tombstone.  She’d leave them here for him.  Even though she knew he wasn’t actually here, it comforted her somehow to know that the box was there.
    She leaned back against the tree, drew her knees up into her chest, and closed her eyes.  Even closed, the words on the tombstone were clear enough that they seemed embedded in her very mind.  Against her will, the memories of that day flooded back to her.  Some of the memories were achingly tender, precious.  But others, like those from that horrible night... 
    The night of the reunion---the night Andrew was killed.

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