The Tuesday evening “Grief Group” was winding down. Joe and Sandra gathered with a few of the other members to get some coffee and cookies. “I know that these meetings are hard in the beginning, but they do comfort me by knowing I’m not alone with all these emotions built up.” Wes expressed to the new members with a squeeze applied to Joe’s shoulder.
The group leader Megan strolled over, “How are you two holding up?” with such concern in her eyes. Sandra cleared her throat before responding, “Um, um, excuse me… It’s been over a year since the fire and it’s still so fresh in my mind that that was the evening Brittney was taken from us. When does it start getting easier?” Tears formed in her eyes as Joe wrapped his arm around his wife’s waist.
Megan tried to be as gentle as she could when she suggested that the solemn couple visit the site in which their lovely home once stood and say a prayer to their deceased little Brittney. “This might give you some closure, certainly it won’t be easy, but allow yourselves to grieve and feel all your emotions, this might help both of your’s well-being.”
That following weekend, Joe and Sandra left their tiny apartment to take a look at the progress of their new home being built. After they went through a walkthrough with the construction site manager, they got back in their car and sat for a few moments, blanky staring at their new home. Joe then broke the silence and suggested they both go to the empty lot which used to inhabit a once happy family. Sandra was a bit reluctant in the beginning but agreed when Joe reminded her of what Megan said. “Okay, Joe. We can give it a try if you think this will help us cope.”
A two and half hour drive later, they pulled up to the curb. Neither one turned to look at the empty lot. They just sat there staring down the street and watching other neighborhood children riding their bikes, laughing and giggling. “Come’ on Sandra, let’s give this a shot, please?” Joe pleaded with his wife who was now leaning forward twisting the tissue between her fingers. “Okay” Sandra released a sigh, “I’m ready, let’s do this.”
They both removed themselves from the car and held hands facing the empty lot. All that remained was the singed concrete foundation and a few trees in what used to be their backyard. As they surveyed the emptiness that surrounded them, Sandra grasped Joe’s hand tightly. “What, what’s the matter, Sand?” Joe questioned while looking at his wife’s face stare at the old tree in the corner of the property. Her eyes fixated, mouth hanging open, “Sand, what is it? Are you alright?” Joe realized the intensity of how his wife was reacting.
Sandra tried to muster up the words, but she was only able to let out a low whisper, “Honey.” She was shaking and tears rolled down her face, “Do you see the swing? over there in the corner.” Joe turned his head and attention from his frightened wife to glance in the direction Sandra told him to.
There, the old swing Joe made and hung himself from the sturdy oak tree to surprise Brittney, was gradually swaying on its own. However, that’s not what caught the attention of Joe and Sandra. It was Brittney’s shadow swinging in time with the swing. Back and forth, back and forth.
After a few minutes had passed, Joe and Sandra just stood there silently, neither one could speak, they were simply in awe of what they were witnessing when a faint sound uttered the words, “I love you, Mama and Daddy.” Sandra bent down to her knees and began to sob, Joe still held Sandra’s hand and whispered back to Brittney’s shadow form, “We love you and miss you so much, baby girl.”
As sudden as the shadow appeared, it then went away without warning and the swing stopped its motion of back and forth.
Joe bent down alongside Sandra, and never let go of her hands. With both heads down and tears dripping into the earth, Joe finally mustered up the words, “Dear God, please take care of our baby girl. Brittney is such a lovely innocent little girl, please watch over her. We love her and miss her so dearly. Amen.”
They sat there for a few moments longer with hopes of seeing the swing and the shadow formation of Brittney return, but that was it. It was the closure they had sought.
Picture Credit: Pinterest