The Final Farewell

The fires raged on, undeterred by heroic efforts to tamp the flames and stave off destruction.

I’m not by nature foolhardy, but when I got the reverse 911 call to evacuate, I made a stop at the cemetery gates and ran through the grounds to the marker.

I stopped short when I saw the candles were lit. Although I visited often, it had been decades since I’d lit a candle. We live in desert dryness; one did not contribute possible sparks to dry grass and trees.

The fires all around us were a culmination of my greatest fears.

 “Amanda?”

I whirled, startled. “Adam?” I cried. “What are you doing here?”

“Same thing you are, I guess.” My brother stood beside me, and we read the tributes to our parents. “I wanted to say goodbye. God knows what this place will…” He swallowed hard; I heard the click in his throat. “What it will be tomorrow.”

I blinked back tears and nodded.

“It will probably be fine,” Adam added, posturing optimism.

“So, you lit the candles?” I asked.

“What–me? No!” He looked horrified. “I thought you did. Because–”

Because who else could it be? 

“I would never–”

We stared at each other, jaws agape, then slowly turned to look at the monument we’d scrimped and saved to have erected so many years before.

The candles burned brightly in their glass orbs, backlit by the red dusk and not-so-far-away-now flickering flames. It was sweltering hot in the graveyard; could the wicks have simply combusted from the heat?

That idea was ridiculous, of course. The sconces would have shattered, I think.

After a long moment, Adam said, “I think we aren’t the only ones here who needed a final farewell.”

In unison: “We love you, Mom and Dad!”

We fled.

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