The rain falls hard. Harder than I have ever felt before. Or maybe it’s because I have never stood out in the rain without an umbrella before. Raindrops pound against my head, feels like golf ball-sized hail stones making impressions into my skull.
“Come out of the rain, Ashley.” Voices implore around me.
My feet refuse to move. They refuse to carry me to shelter.
“Chase, come back here,” my mother pleads.
I feel little hands wrap around my leg, the tiny voice of my son telling me, “It’s okay, mommy. You don’t hafta cry.”
His presence makes me cry even more; no longer able to tell my tears from the rain as they both run down my face and soil the top of his innocence. I rub the top of his head; words fail me.
Chase’s fingers unravel from my leg as I move away from him.
Two men continue to toss dirt on Kristen’s grave as if she was no more than a Jane Doe. She was more than a nameless, homeless being. She had a home and she had a name. She was my daughter.
My heart tugs, like strings on a guitar waiting to be plucked, as I near my daughter’s final resting place. If only I had driven her to school that day, I would have seen the car running the light. I promise I would have.
“Mommy,” Chase cries after me. “Mommy, come back.”
The rain pounds harder than my heart beat. So badly I want to jump in after Kristen and hold her in my arms again.
With every breath that I breathe, I know that I have to stay. For Chase, I stay. I wipe my tears away and run toward my son.