Spirits flitted in and out of her ears, passing with ease through the two worlds. The past and the present. They did not know their place.
She didn't hear them as she trekked between the tombstones with an armful of wilted roses. She had bought them at home and tried her hardest to preserve them in the thirteen hour car drive, but nothing could possibly be preserved forever. Except memories – those could last a lifetime.
And they had. Thirty-seven years ago, the body had been lowered into the ground, on a warm and sunny June day. The memorial residents were all cursing the sunshine in their black attire, and to each and every one of them, the day that Anna had been placed in the earth, the rain had poured in each of their minds, hearts, and souls.
The minister had administered seeds to all of the young children, her legendary generations all coming into one, and even the adults had been so remorseful as to take a few seeds of their own to plant and call memories in their own personal gardens at home. Everybody would remember the flowers and plants that Anna had so painstakingly cared for in her own garden.
The girl had been sixteen years old at the time. She'd stared as the lackeys begun to shovel the pieces of dirt and earth on top of her great-grandmother's coffin. A single solitary blackbird crowed in the trees and drowned out the voices of her related mourners as the tears welled in her eyes. Delicately, the flower seeds in her pocket trickled through her fingers and she stood solid until the last ounce of dirt was placed and packed down, hiding the coffin from the sight of the world, and the crowd had dispersed for drinks and sandwiches, before she spread the seeds atop of the coffin-covering dirt and prayed for a few drops of rain.
Here she stood, in front of the gravesite of her great-grandmother, fifty-three years old and yet her memories never failed her. She lightly placed the dozen wilted red roses in front of the headstone and wiped it off lightly with the sleeve of her sweater. Thirty-seven weather-abusing years had taken its toll, and the words were barely legible now.
Her body had grown old and frail after a long tired life, and even at fifty-three, she could only imagine the way her great-grandmother had felt at ninety-seven when she had died so suddenly on a hot summer day. Her beloved cold summer rain dripped down upon her and the effort to stand was unbearable. Still, she opened her mouth to speak:
"Granny, I miss you more than anybody could possibly describe. I had to come see you one last time.
I've never forgotten you, in anything I've ever done in life. You were there beside me when I got my diploma, and my first job. You were standing beside me at my wedding. You were in the delivery room when I gave birth to my daughter, and you stood beside me at her unfair funeral, at the tender age of eleven. You helped me through the loss of her. All throughout my life, you've been holding my hand."
The spirits called her name once more but she ignored them and they disappeared in the gentle breeze and raindrops and she continued talking.
"You were the kindest, most gentle person I had ever encountered in my life. I'm dying Granny, I don't have a lot of time left, but I wanted to come speak to you one last time, because I need your help again. I don't know what's going to happen when I die, but I want to see you. I need you."
The ghosts and remains of the other beloved silenced themselves and the clouds parted in an omen. The rain began to pour harder and lightning cracked across the darkened sky when she turned around and walked back between the tombstones and out to her car. Turning the key, she ignited the engine at the very second that thunder rolled between the clouds. The deafening roar resonated in the distance, and she drove away from the spirits, a tired woman.
They found her slumped over in her driver's seat at a green light with her car still running, silence and static blaring through the trusty speakers. The coroner had declared it a natural death and they had zipped her body in a rustic black body bag and called her relatives to come identify the body.
When they laid her down in the ground next to her great-grandmother's grave, she had smiled and summoned the sun, understanding finally why it had been so beautiful out on the day of her great-grandmother's funeral, and together they watched the mourners spread flower seeds on the matching graves.
And those flowers, like memories, continued to bloom year after year, coating what should have been graves of despair in happy hues of purples and pinks.
And nobody ever questioned why it rained so faithfully on the thirteenth of June.