Following a dry-stone wall on a beautiful spring day, the old man took a sharp right turn into an enclosure. On first impressions, the young man thought they had stepped into a cemetery until the old man directed his friend toward one of many standing stones. Out of respect for the dead, the young man was careful not to stand on the area in front of each stone. The old man laughed gently.
“There are no corpses beneath this earth my friend.”
“Is this not a cemetery?”
The young man glanced around. It was a peaceful, rural location with a few trees showing young leaves. Bluebells covered most of the ground and where they left space, tulips and fresh green grass thrived. A storybook scene; blue sky, comfortable sunshine and a hint of a breeze. A perfect place to meditate or spend time with a friend.
At last, the young mans’ eyes fell upon the closest stone. “It reads like a reminiscence of a particular event.”
“Exactly that. Do you recognize the event described on this stone?”
The young man read the words. Silently at first and then again out-loud.
“She handed him the baby,” the young man hesitated and took a deep breath. “He accepted her carefully and with difficulty. The oxygen tube got in the way, she moved it. Even the weight of a baby not two months old was difficult to hold.”
He swallowed, tearfully and looked at his old friend.
“It reminds me of a life-event. I was in a hospital and spent two months there.”
“Now you are well my young friend. Why does it hurt so much? It’s in the past.”
“Five children under the age of ten and we lived in a house two long bus journeys away from the hospital. Getting them to school and nursery involved four miles of walking, twice each day. The shops were another three miles round trip in the opposite direction. Nobody offered help, not really. So, she gave everything and didn’t give up on ‘us,’ not for a moment.”
Resting a hand on the old mans’ shoulder, he looked into his eyes.
“Why do you punish me with a reminder of this?”
“We all have a space where memories, good, bad and seemingly indifferent reside. This is yours and it was your choice to come here.”
“I wasn’t aware of any choice.”
“They are your memories. It’s up to you to dwell upon them or, take what you can and move on with your life.”
“I felt so guilty and useless laying there.”
“Regardless, she gave you her unconditional love. Accept that, it’s all you need.”
The young man smiled like it might eclipse the sun and faded away into the glow.