“What am I supposed to do?” Lanie cried into the empty space. “What do you want me to do, when there is nothing!” She stumbled forward, cursing herself for wearing the wrong shoes. The type of shoes that gave her blisters on the heels of her feet that hindered her ability to walk distances longer than five minutes. Then again, she hadn’t planned on wandering around, speaking to nothing. Her nose was running from the tears, but instead of reaching into her pocket and pulling out the Kleenex she had brought, she wiped it on the shoulder of her sleeve. Screw personal hygiene.
It was hot and humid out, not the keenest day to be outdoors. The smart, would be inside their air-conditioned houses sipping lemonade, watching comedy Wednesdays on TV. Instead, Lanie searched.
“It has to be here. It has to.” She whispered, exhausted. “It just has to be.” She checked the next headstone. ‘DORNBUSH’ it read. She was beginning to think the person she was looking for didn’t exist. She had to exist. She’d visited this place enough times to know where it was. They don’t just unbury bodies and replant them elsewhere! A new set of tears brimmed her eyelids, and another choking cry escaped. She didn’t care who was watching, it was a graveyard, for cripes sake. Crying was okay, it was practically mandatory.
She was lost. She’d covered the same length of distance at least three times, and still nothing. “This is where it was, this is the area you always were. I remember. I remember seeing you. Why can’t this just be easy.” Something in her life had to be right, had to be easy. Everything she seemed to do of late was horrible, or disapproving. Lanie needed to find her. She was the one person in this world who couldn’t judge her, or yell at her, or tell her she was a screw up. All things Lanie already knew. She just needed silence. Lanie figured in a graveyard, she could easily achieve that. But not any gravestone would do, she couldn’t just hunker down beside the Greenes, or the Temelltons, it needed to be her. It needed to be.
“I didn’t come here to search for you! I came here to be with you!” She sniffled. “Just send me a sign! Show me where I’m supposed to go!” She collapsed herself against a tree and shrivelled down to sitting position. Drawing her knees to her chest, she wrapped her arms around, tucking them beneath her chin. She looked around, helpless. She didn’t come here to feel helpless. She felt this already, this emptiness. Nothing went as planned. She came here to relax, to let go, to cry. Not the tears of being lost, but tears to release all this anger she’d bottled inside her.
Safety. That’s what Lanie came here for. She wanted to feel safe, for once. She needed to feel the burdens she carried, be lifted, if only for a few moments. It was so much more, she came for so much more. She needed a place, where she could be herself. A place where she could unwind, after a stressful day, and just be the person she was trying so desperately to become. Whoever that was.
Finding herself was something Lanie needed to do, and with all these people breathing down her neck, she found it nearly impossible to do so. She was falling apart, piece by piece, she could feel it. They were telling her she was wrong, she was immature, easily pressured, incompetent, untrusting. She was tired of it. Tired of being judged, and constantly watched. She had to cover her tracks, be careful, and watch herself. It became more and more like a fulltime job and she had grown emotionally haggard.
She pulled her music player out, and plugged it into her ears to drown out the silence that had suddenly started to scream at her. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back to rest on the tree trunk. She inhaled deeply, and released a shaky breath.
Music was supposed to sooth her, it was supposed to heal her. She could feel her throat close up, and the welling of tears began. Fighting them back, she swallowed them down. She would not cry anymore, she could not.
She pulled the ear buds forcefully from her ears. The silence had turned deafening, and music could not protect her. Thoughts of her family gushed into her mind. She had let them down, again. She had let her friends down; she probably had even let herself down. Living up to people’s standards was exhausting, and time consuming.
Lanie pushed herself up from the ground and resumed talking to herself and the silence she needed to escape
“I didn’t know you. I never even met you. They tell me I met you, and I was happy with you. But I was a baby, and I don’t remember. You were there for everyone else before me, why couldn’t you be there for me?” Tears rolled down her cheeks in an unsynchronized rhythm. “I need you now, and you’re not here. You’re supposed to be here, right here, I remember. I’ve visited you. Why aren’t you where I remember! You can be here for me, I need you to be here for me now.” She wiped at her nose with the backside of her hand. “Please,” she barely whispered. “Please be here. Let me find you.”
In the midst of her outburst, Lanie had ambled over the gravel path to another patch of headstones. She stopped, looking about her, she sighed. Looking down, she saw it. The name, carved perfectly in the sunken headstone. She fell on all fours and pressed her hand to the name. “Thank you.” She sobbed. “Thank you so much.”
Her tears were no longer of anger, and abandonment, but of happiness, and a sense of accomplishment. She had scoured this place, for something that wasn’t where she had thought it was. She had felt as lost here, as she did in her own life. She’d felt helpless, in a place where all she wanted to feel was hope, and a sense of security.
Maybe the search for the headstone was what Lanie needed. She needed to look where she shouldn’t, in order to open her eyes. To see something about her life that she hadn’t been able to see till now. She was looking for happiness, and solitude in her life in all the wrong places. She needed to look elsewhere, to family, to friends, to the people she knew were doing everything she despised, just to help her. The lady beneath the headstone had helped her in her path to self-discovery before Lanie had even found her.
“I found you,” Lanie breathed. Perhaps in addition to, she’d just found a ray of hope for herself.
Rolling over to fall on her back, Lanie smiled. For the first time that evening, she smiled. An uncontrollable laughter erupted from her lungs, and she could feel the pieces of her shattered life start to make their way back to each other. Her healing had begun.