Anniversary Rememberance

Anniversary Rememberance

A Story by Wonderful Letdown
"

Catherine has grown wary of her birthday. Every year, it never fails to bring a rush of bittersweet memories. Some that she thought were best left forgotten, but can't seem to be able to let them go.

"
    Catherine was apprehensive. It would be her first time visiting him here, ever. The whole thing made her nervous and tense. The warm, sunny weather on this pleasant Saturday afternoon did nothing to ease the tension in her body. Mind you, she never felt right around this time of year. She always dreaded early April. In particular, April fifth. Which just so happened to be today. She should be feeling happy, after all her birthday is on the seventh, but Catherine couldn't muster up those feelings. No matter how hard she tried. This time of year was always bittersweet for her. Memories would come rushing back in such sharp relief that she could have sworn that they only happened the day before. Some brought a smile, while others brought a tear. No matter how many years have passed, the memories never faded. Sometimes she celebrated her good memory while other times she cursed it because she could never forget the bad memories. A wry smile would always dance across her lips when she thought of that fact. Simply because she knew she had very few good memories and the ones she did have, seemed to fail in comparison to the bad. The good memories she has, she hoards and guards more fiercely than a dragon guards their treasure. Her memory was a blessing and a curse, one she wouldn't change for the world. And that brings Catherine back to her dilemma.
Today was the day Catherine had decided to visit her Uncle. Oh she remembered him quite well, and that was the problem. Catherine stood in front of the gates of his home. She stared, hesitating. It was turning out to be more difficult than she had originally planned. She had come this far, which is further than all the previous attempts. She refused to turn back after this point. Catherine drew in a slow, calming breath before squaring her shoulders. Her jaw clenched and her eyes glinting in a solemn determination. Her hands unconsciously turned into fists as she marched her way up to the gate. She silently pushed it open and it gave a loud metallic 'creeeeeak' which made her flinch at the sudden loud noise. She hesitated for a moment before quickly stepping over the threshold and paused to take note of this foreign territory.
It was mostly silent and peaceful. She could hear the faint whispers of civilization and the occasional cheerful chirping of the birds. She noticed that there were no other visitors today which made her feel slight relief, she wouldn't feel rushed or stupid during her visit. She tilted her head up towards the sky letting the sun shine on her face. A smile came unbidden on her lips. The sun felt good, warming her clammy skin. The gentle breeze caressing her body and playing with her hair kept the sun and temperature from being too overbearing. It made the weather perfect for her visit. She breathed in through her nose, taking a distant notice of how it smelled of spring. Their was a freshness to the air, as well as the scent of grass and a faint smell of flowers. Which didn't surprise her, considering where and why she was here. She slowly let out the breathe she didn't know she was holding. 'No more stalling' she decided before briskly setting out to find the reason she was here. 
It took her longer than she would have liked to find her Uncle. Once she did, she took out the blanket in her messenger bag and she spread out her blanket on the grass in front of him. It didn't take her long to get settled on the blanket. She delicately picked up the white lily she had placed in her messenger bag and held it in her lap. She stared blankly while absently fiddling with the flower in her hand, trying to decide what she should say.
"Hey Uncle Bobbie, it's been a while eh?" She started softly. She paused before continuing on.
"It's been eight years since I've last saw you. It seems as if no one has visited you here either in these last 8 years  huh?" Catherine's voice began to tremble. Her eyes stung and her nose began to burn. She knew she was about an inch from crying. But she continued onward, not waiting for an answer.  
"I've graduated high school already, and I know what I want to do with my life." Catherine stopped suddenly, looking lost. There was so much she wanted to say to him, so much she wanted to tell him about but she didn't know where to start. It made her feel lost. 
"I have a really awesome friend. She's like a sister. You would love her. You're granddaughter was born, she'll be 8 in a few weeks. She's sharp as a tack and absolutely hilarious. You would have adored her." Her voice cracked. She knew he wouldn't respond to anything she said. It broke her heart. The conversation trailed off as Catherine retreated into her memories from eight years ago.....
Catherine was sitting at the back of her sixth grade class. She was lucky that there was a window to her left that she could stare off into space out of. It was about 1:00 p.m on Tuesday, April 5th, 2005 and she was bored out of her mind. She was still trying to calm down from her exciting weekend. She had went with her Aunt Barb and a family friend, Heather, to her cousin-in-law's baby shower the past Sunday. Man was it ever an adventure. It took them five hours because of the snow storm in her area which made driving really bad. It took 5 hours fornormally a 2-3 hour trip plus all the sights of deserted cars and what-not on the way made for a really interesting drive! They ended up getting stranded in Toronto from the bad weather and so Catherine missed most of Monday's classes because of it, much to her excitement. Plus it didn't help that her birthday was in two days time and her party was on the Saturday. Her mind then drifted to her Uncle, he hadn't been feeling well when they left for the baby shower on Sunday. Catherine decided that she would ask dad about him after school and maybe go see how he was doing.

 Her attention was suddenly grabbed by a sharp shooting pain in her chest. She felt like she was dying. A picture suddenly came into her mind. It was her Uncle Bobbie sitting on the love sear in the t.v. room with his cat, Julius (Julie for short) sitting on his lap. She felt a sudden sense of loss, like a part of her was stolen away. Then fear. Unadulterated fear. She remembered the last two times something like this happened....both times those were the ones who died. She had the sudden urge to get up and run to the office and call 911 for her uncle. But she was scared. What if she was wrong? Plus, how would she explain it? She sat there shifting in her seat. Eyes darting in the direction of her Uncle's home. Inwardly she was screaming at herself to do something. She didn't. She unhappily tried to ignore it and hope she was wrong. The rest of the school day passed by in a blur.

After school Catherine wound up at home. She decided to wait for her dad and ask about him. Time flew by and before she knew it, it was 5:00 p.m and her dad wasn't home. He was late and she began to worry. The phone rang and she went running. She answered it quickly.

"Hello?"

"Catherine" A deep voice came across the line.

"Dad, where are you? You're late" She snipped worriedly

"I'm at Uncle Bobbie's, something bad has happened to Uncle Bobbie." His response came slowly, it immediately caught her attention. Dread began to curl in the bottom of her stomach.

"What is it?" She asked, fearing the answer. Her fingers tightening around the phone, holding it in a vice-like grip.

"I'll tell you when I get home. I don't know when I'll be home, I'll be home soon." His voice was calm, trying to soothe her. But she could tell something was off.

"He's dead isn't he? I knew it! He's dead!" She cut in, almost shouting.

"I'll tell you when I get home. Bye." Her father's response was abrupt before he quickly hung up on her before she could get in another word. She looked at the phone in disbelief. He hung up on her! She was angry at him for that. But the panic and fear were quickly overriding it.

She called her best friend and told her about the conversation and what she thought. Catherine was hysterical. Her best friend wasn't able to console her before her friend was kicked off the phone because it was dinner time. Catherine couldn't stand the silence. She needed someone to be there. So she did the unthinkable. She called her mentally-ill mother. Her mom said she was coming over, and Catherine was grateful. 

Her mother tried calming her down, but nothing worked. She felt numb. She was having a nightmare, a horribly realistic one. Her mother had placed dinner down in front of her. It was fish 'n' chips with gravy, a favourite of Catherine's. She heard the front door open. She glanced up at the stove top to only to see the time 7:00 flashing in glowing green numbers before tilting her head to her right where she could see the door from her spot at the kitchen table. It was her dad. He was silent until he reached where she was sitting. That's when he told her the words that would break her world a part.

"Uncle Bobbie is dead." He told her gently. The dam broke open. Catherine began wailing. Crying into her dad's stomach, her body shaking from the force of the sobs. He just held her as she bawled. This couldn't be happening. He couldn't be gone. None of it seemed real. Yet the loss, it felt so strong. Missing and longing. Sorrow and pain. All of it mixed together, Catherine couldn't make heads or tails of it so she did the only thing that she could: cry. When her tears subsided some, she pulled away from her dad to try and finish her dinner. She wasn't hungry anymore. Her vision was blurry as she ate. The food held no taste. The occasional sob would happen as she ate, tears streaming down the eleven year old's face the entire time. She managed to choke down all her food before quietly asking to go to her room. She needed to be alone.

She dazedly walked into her room to leave her parents to talk and contact the people that needed to be contacted. She managed to stop crying, she felt drained. Once in the safety of her room, she started to play various songs on her flute. She let the music take her away, nothing existed but her and her music. Until she got to her favourite piece of music. "Amazing Grace". No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't play it. She'd barely start playing when she'd break down crying. The tears wouldn't stop. Catherine finally got fed up and put all her music things away. She knew she wouldn't get anywhere like this. She was frustrated. How could she express what she was feeling? The emotions are too much, she can't keep it all in. Music is how she expresses herself, and she can't use it! Suddenly an idea came to her mind....she decided to write it down in her diary. Everything she felt, she poured out onto those tear-stained pages. Sobbing and blurry eyed. She managed to get it all down. She looked at her clock, it read 9:00. She picked up her diary and left her room. She wanted to see her parents and read them what she wrote.

When she walked into her kitchen, she noticed two family friends were there with her parents. Everyone was crying and each person gave her a hug. Catherine shyly asked them if she could read what she wrote and they agreed. By the end, her parents were sobbing. Especially her dad. He grabbed her and cried into her shoulder. Her mother was holding her too and crying into her other shoulder. Catherine stood despondent. No emotion on her face. She wanted to be strong for them, she refused to cry anymore. Everyone was hurting and she wanted to be the one to help them. 

The days pass by in a blur. She goes through the motions. Numb. Disbelief. It's her birthday. It's Thursday and It's rainy and cloudy. How fitting, she thinks with a bitter smile. Before she knows it, school is over and she's off to Bible Club. She tells her teacher about it and her teacher told her not to blame God. Catherine looked at her like she was a giant dancing teddy bear with five heads and wings made out of Jello. 

"I don't blame God. I know my Uncle is in a better place now." She replied simply. And it was true. She knew all this, but it didn't make the pain feel any less. The emptiness, the loss. The giant void he left behind. He may be happy, but she was miserable. 

Bible club passed without a hitch before she was at her Uncle's house, filled with all the mourning relatives. She was talking with one of her relatives when they found out it was her birthday and they sent her to get milk from the convenience store two blocks down so that they could get me outta the house until everyone got back there from dinner. She ended up talking with a lady with a dog on her way there. The just-turned 12 year old thought it hilarious that the lady thought she was between the age of 15 and 17. 

When she got back, her cousin gathered everyone in the kitchen. They all sung 'Happy Birthday' and gave her a 'cake' with 'candles'. It was one of those two-bite brownies with 12 matches sticking out of it....all lit. Catherine thought it was amusing, as did many other family members.

Afterwards she read her poem in private with two of her cousins and Aunt, they all bawled and hugged her. Telling her she wrote it beautifully.

The next day had her at the funeral home just before the start of the 10 a.m. service. Her dad and herself were early. They stood outside talking with people. The line was long, before it was finally their turn to sign the book. It was on a heavy looking solid wooden table. After signing, they went to the doors, which were on the right side of the table and walked through them. It was a fairly small room, looking like a church. Many people were already seated. In front of all the pews, was a raised platform that had a lectern (a tall stand that people put papers and books on when talking in front of people) in the far right corner. It was on a slant with glass-stained window beside it. It was the only window in the room. There were giant vases of white flowers at the front. Then Catherine's eyes landed on the coffin. That's when it all sunk in. Her Uncle is DEAD. And he ISN'T coming back. For the second time in under a week, her world fell a part. It felt like someone dumped cold water over her head while she was sleeping. All the numbness, the disbelief, the despondency, all of it was ripped to shreds and the pain came. With the pain, came the tears. She cried and sobbed throughout the entire service. Relatives looked at her misty eyed, handing her tissues. Her dad holding her while she cried into his chest. In amongst the pain. There was anger. How DARE that priest speak like he knew her Uncle when he knew JACK about him. Inside, she was screaming in rage.   
What Catherine didn't realize at that time was the results his death would have. The family drifting even further a part. Depression. Financial Stress. Betrayals. Sometimes, it seemed more than anyone could take....then she'd remember.

Her Uncle and his pet chipmunk Chippy. How Chippy became Squishy.

Her Uncle stealing her super soaker water gun to spray errant squirrels hell bent on eating all the food in his bird feeder.

Her Uncle calling her weird for watching Crocodile Hunter instead of cartoons.

Her Uncle and her baking banana muffins together.

Her practically living with her Uncle for almost two years because of her dad's night job.

Her trying to do homework while Julie would do everything in his power to stop her and her Uncle would be laughing his arse off.

The silent mornings where he would drink his coffee and do his morning crossword. A ritual that no one would interrupt due to the consequences of such a heinous act that would be brought upon the perpetrators head.

How her Uncle loved rhubarb and got people to give him it so that he could make pie, but never got around to it.

How her Uncle and her dad were best friends and her Uncle was often over to play pool, though he lost more times than he won.

How she went to knock on the door of the pool room and just as she was about to knock, her Uncle opened the door. How he jumped back off the steps he was standing on and landed on the floor. His face? Priceless. All three of them cracked up laughing. Her dad ending up on his knees he was laughing so hard.

How he taught her how to swim.

His surprise birthday party that was held 3 months in advance where he got a bird feeder taller than her....and it's the same one that he wanted her water gun to guard.
 
The sound of her cell phone's ringtone snapped Catherine back into reality. She fumbled with her phone only to realize that it was a reminder she had the forethought to set so that she wouldn't be late for dinner with her best friend. Through her blurry vision, she managed to shut the damn thing off. Silence quickly encompassed the deserted graveyard again. Her fingers returned to the cold stone, retracing the words etched into it. Catherine drew in a shaky breath, trying to reign in her rampaging emotions. She drew out some tissue paper to wipe away the tears that she had unconsciously been shedding before blowing her nose so that it would stop running. Once her emotions and memories had calmed, she clambered to her feet and quickly packed up her things. She took a few steps away from the place she had been sitting. Suddenly she came to a halt, she wasn't done yet. She slowly turned and stared at the name engraved upon the cold marble stone. Her stare bore into the stone while she was trying to find the words she wanted to say. There was so much she wanted to say, but never got the chance. After many agonizing moments, she knew just what she wanted to say. What she needed to say.
Catherine gave the gravestone a wry and watery smile. "It must have been hell. Watching over me and not being able to help me in anyway. There's so much I've done that must have worried you up there. I'm sorry for all the grief I gave you, in life and in death. I was a real idiot who didn't know anything until I lost it....." At this, she paused wistfully before continuing on. She couldn't stop now even if she wanted too. "...Do you know what my biggest regret is? It's that I never hugged you and told you I loved you before I walked out that door the last time I saw you. I'd give almost anything to hold you and tell you I love you, just one last time. I'll always remember you, all the good times we had. You've done so much for me, and I never got the chance to repay you . Thank-you so much, you have no idea how much it meant to me. How much you meant to me. Thank-you for being like a father-figure. For stepping into the role when my own dad couldn't be there. Thank-you for taking care of me. Thank-you for everything Uncle Bobbie. I miss you but I'm continuing to move forward. I want you to know that you don't have to worry about me anymore, I'm alright now. I'll be okay without you. I'll be okay, so please don't worry about me. Good-bye Uncle Bobbie." With those last words, she turned away from the marker and continued walking away.
Tears silently streaming down her face. The tension in her body had melted by the end of her speech, making her feel lighter. All the regrets, guilt, and burdens had vanished leaving behind a sense of peace. All that could be heard were her soft footsteps as she made her way out. A soft smile upon her lips and an expression of peace on her tear-stricken face. She finally found her closure.
The graveyard was still once more. The only evidence of a recent visitor were tear drops and a single white lily, left lovingly on a forgotten dusty grave.

© 2013 Wonderful Letdown


Author's Note

Wonderful Letdown
The story is mostly made up of my memories (the italicized paragraphs). Tuesday, April 5, 2005. R.I.P. It's the 8 year anniversary, this is written in his memory. I'm sorry if it's choppy, I couldn't help it. And yes, I know it goes vague in some parts, that's simply because I have no clear memory of it. And yes, I did have fish and chips with gravy at 7:00 when my dad walked in the door.

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Added on March 31, 2013
Last Updated on March 31, 2013
Tags: Family, Longing, Missing, Comfort, Anniversary, Biography, Introspective, Memories

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Wonderful Letdown
Wonderful Letdown

Canada



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Yo, I love writing though I suck at grammar/punctuation. It's the only way I can express myself. Don't expect weekly updates. I'm a really irregular kind of writer. Though I hope to improve (as a .. more..

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