I was standing barefoot on a white beach, like I'd wanted to ever since my first days of freedom. My feet were buried in the sand almost up to my ankles. My shoes were tossed aside beside me, and I stood, alone with a porcelain jar tucked beneath my arm. The jar was a reddish-brown color, and I thought it was fitting.
I was debating with myself whether I was ready to open the jar, because I felt strange doing so… I decided I had to say something first. "We're here… just like you promised…" I murmured, closing my eyes.
I used all the emotional strength that I could muster to open that urn. When I did, I told myself not to look inside it. I pulled out a handful of ashes, at first disgusted with myself for doing this, wondering what I was thinking. But knowing you, I knew it was what you would have wanted. You died for freedom; it just wasn't fitting that you be caged in a coffin for all eternity. Even though you were afraid of fire, I know you'd agree with me.
So I told myself you would have been proud of me and I held handful after handful of your ashes up to the wind, letting them be blown out of my hands. The air was blowing past me, rushing past my ears and intertwining in my hair. My hair was being pulled past my face along with the wind and I enjoyed the rush of it.
I was wearing the dress I'd worn when we first met, it hadn't been too much trouble to retrieve it, so don't worry. I felt almost nostalgic, standing here three months after we'd first met. Your urn had been sitting around for a while, I'm ashamed to admit. I just wasn't ready to set you completely free like this.
I wanted to keep you. I wanted to keep you in that urn sitting on a shelf… forever. You saved my life, you showed me freedom and I wasn't ready to say my final goodbyes. For hours, I'd stand there, staring at that reddish-brown urn, telling myself, this isn't what you wanted. In life you wanted nothing more than freedom… it was fitting that in death you would want the same.
I knew this was what you wanted, thinking back to our promise, you knew you were going to die, even then. So you told me to take you to a beach, and so… I did. I still felt strange, holding your burned remains in my hands. I promised not to cry though; you wouldn't want me to cry.
The wind carried your ashes away, and in the wind they danced, twirling around freely, without any boundaries. You were free now, and I was glad to have been apart of that. Some of your ashes were falling to the sea, to travel the ocean forevermore…
Upon realizing that your urn was finally empty, I broke my promise to you. You always had a way of making me do that, break promises. A single tear rolled down my cheek, slowly and painfully. Every emotion I'd ever felt towards you was in that one tear. Anger, hurt, desertion... but hidden under all of those was happiness. I was happy that you were finally free, released from guilt, and hurt and the loneliness you'd felt your whole life. You'd left me to fend for myself, but you left me with your wisdom. I could thank you for that. You were an unsung hero, for everyone in this world. You didn't want to be, but you were and always will be. You fought for everyone of your country who couldn't fight for themselves. And in the end you died for them, because you couldn't live with the guilt and the recognition as a hero for taking the life of another. You deserved the freedom you fought for, but denied it to yourself because inside you felt you'd dirtied your hands too much to deserve it.
You were an idiot to think that. The tear on my cheek was solemn, and alone. I inhaled shakily, keeping the other tears held in. I could see the wind whisking your ashes away, and they were dancing, some plunging into the white crested waves, the rest continuing to ride on the wind.
You were free forever now.
I clutched the fabric of my dress above my heart, hoping to ease its aching as I stared at the world, knowing that because of you there were no more constraints. I let the urn drop to the sand, my other hand lying on top of the other. That single tear still rested on my cheek as I watched your ashes flying away on the wind, devoid of any form or constraints. So, you'd be gone forever, and I'd never see even a piece of you again.
"I love you."
And somewhere, somehow...
I hope you knew.