The day began, in contrast to the rain of the night before, with a smattering of cloud partially obscuring the bright blue sky. A breeze caressed the tree tops in a gentle embrace. The temperature was cool, but not cold. A perfect day, as far as Melbourne weather this time of year is concerned.
The morning’s activities were calm and unhurried, yet underlined by a subtle intensity. Today was the day that had been coming for so long; the day to say goodbye. The end of suffering. The culmination of mourning.
The grass fields stretch far into the distance, broken by an occasional tree, and twisting ribbons of road. These fields have seen many people arrive over the years. Some rest here still, neatly arranged into rows; but most have left, perhaps returning infrequently, or perhaps never at all. Today some return will after long absences.
Sometime in the recent past, a deep, rectangular hole has been created. It is visible now, gaping wide open, bordered by green felt. A metal frame rests above it all, waiting, ready to perform it’s macabre task.
People arrive now. A blue-topped collapsible marque is erected nearby. Chairs, dull and unremarkable, are unfolded beneath the marque, overlooking the scene. A long car, somewhere between blue and silver in colour, parks a short distance away. The wind increases now, leaves fluttering noisily, birds make their presence known with their chirping. More cars traverse the ribbon of road, disgorging people onto the grass. There are smiles of recognition, handshakes between old acquaintences, shared rememberences in muted conversations.
A microphone stand is unfolded, topped with a microphone. A wireless speaker sits a short distance away. Peaceful, calm music begins to emanate from it. The long, silvery blue car opens, and four grey-haired men wearing dark suits waiting nearby silently bear its cargo towards the waiting crowd. A long, darkly stained wooden vessel, strangely angled, adorned with flowers and decorated with polished chrome handles. Later, a silvery plaque engraved with a name would be noticed, attached to the top, centered in one dimension, yet offset in the other. Another grey-haired man steps close to the microphone, and begins to talk.
The smiles are gone now, replaced with thoughtful expressions. Many pairs of eyes glisten with emerging tears as the grey-haired man recounts his tale. Prayers are offered, a life summarised. Appeals made to follow the example of the one who is a silent, unknowing spectator, recumbent, hidden from view. The tears released, seen clearly now. With a subtle nod to those who arrived in the silvery blue car, flowers are moved, a lever is turned, and the wooden vessel descends into the gaping, rectangular maw of the earth, re-uniting husband and wife.
The man in front of the microphone ceases from talking, and steps away. White, long-stemmed roses, released from remembering hands, rain down into the deep, accompanied by tight embraces and streaming tears.
Your pain and suffering has ended. Now you rest peacefully beside your husband, united again after so many years. For those who view your resting place in the earth, you exist now as but a memory, fading slowly into the mists of time.