far away, I will always love you
However long I stay, I will always love you
(Lovesong, The Cure)
Jeans and a black suit over the white shirt she had given the first Christmas. Casual elegant, she would have said, with a sly hint in her voice.
That was his attire when he would go to see her. Only the best for her.
In one hand he had a huge bunch of purple tulips he had personally picked from the garden just a few minutes before, in the other he held the most precious thing in his life.
He crossed the wet grass in silence, like he had already done uncountable times before.
Nothing could keep him away from her.
The evening was about to come, cold and grey because of the clouds that covered the sky. The rain had just stopped falling and everything around was faintly sparkling under the few sunbeams penetrating the clouds.
There was something magical in that atmosphere, but maybe it was just him. Just because he was going to her.
Nobody was around.
For once, there would be no witness to their meeting.
He still could remember that day, two years before. With all their friends, on that same grass.
Two long years. And he was still there, going to her with her favourite flowers, bringing her a drop of sun in that rainy day.
He stopped in front of the white stone, and stared at her picture.
Smiling. Beautiful. Timeless.
No one would see her beauty fade away. She would be like that forever in everyone's memories. Perfect and lovely like everybody remembered her.
But there was something in that picture that people couldn't see. A hidden pain he was far too aware of.
He bent down and placed the flowers on the ground, then sighed, feeling his heart bleed like every other time he had been there.
He looked at her with a nostalgic smile.
"We miss you so much."
His voice broke and he quickly wiped his eyes, hiding his face with his hand, but those words were still in his mind.
Calleigh Duquesne Wolfe, 1974-2007.
The last sentence of an unfair trial. Life.
"Daddy, don't cry."
For a moment the pain disappeared. He turned back and saw his little daughter smiling to him in her new pink dress, and this time his smile was happier.
Her blond hair, her deep green eyes, her little hands. Everything single particular reminded him of her.
Four years old, and she already looked exactly like her mother. She always had.
"Come here, Emily." He sweetly whispered to her, pulling her near. "Say… Say hi to Mommy and…" but his voice died as the grief invaded his heart again.
Emily looked at the grave with a solemn expression, then leaned forward and kissed twice the glass of her mother's picture.
"Hi Mommy." She said. "And hi Eve."
Her name was not on the grave, but Ryan and Emily knew she was there, too.
Calleigh wasn't alone in heaven. Their unborn child, Evelyn, was with her.
"You didn't say hi." Emily told her father.
Her voice sounded exactly like Calleigh's. Gentle and lively.
Ryan took the tips of his fingers to his lips, then delicately touched Calleigh's face.
"Why don't you tell them what we did today?" he suggested, surrounding his child with his arms.
Emily smiled enthusiastically at her mother's picture.
"Daddy took me to the lab. Auntie Alexx hugged me tight and Uncle Eric gave me a little sugar sheep." She took one hand to her mouth and lowered her voice. "But I didn't eat it, cause Daddy said I had just brushed my teeth."
Ryan couldn't help a small laugh. No matter if her last name was Wolfe, that little girl was a Duquesne.
"Tell them also the other thing."
Emily glanced at him and put on a guilty face.
"I found a kitty at school and I took it home, but didn't tell Daddy." She muttered to Calleigh's picture. "He broke your vase. But Daddy let me keep him."
"It's a female, honey." Ryan corrected her. "She broke Mommy's vase and Daddy let you keep her."
"No!" Emily protested. "It's he!"
Ryan grinned proudly at her stubbornness. Emily was definitely a Duquesne.
"You should have seen her, Cal." He addressed to his late wife. "She called that poor kitten Horatio."
"I love Uncle Horatio." Emily pointed.
Ryan brushed her hair back and placed a kiss on her forehead.
"Yes, honey, but that kitten is a baby girl, you understand?"
"I don't care, Horatio is my kitty."
"Okay." Ryan said, standing up, holding her in his arms. "I think it's time to go back home and see if Horatio is hungry."
"Or broke another vase." Emily added, making her father laugh.
Ryan reached out with his daughter still in his arms, and let her give a last kiss to her mother's picture.
"Bye Mommy, bye Eve." Emily waved her hand as Ryan gazed for a moment at his wife's image.
It hurt him to be standing there, facing the loss that had split his family in two.
"Bye Cal. Bye Evelyn." He whispered. "I love you."
He slowly turned his back to the gravestone and crossed the grass again, walking through the graveyard with nothing more inside than misery and desperate love.
"Daddy?" Emily said, wrapping her little arms around his neck.
"Mommy and Eve still love us, even if they are in heaven?"
Ryan looked into his daughter's eyes, feeling the tears leaving his own.
"Yes, honey. They will always love us, like we will always love them."
And as he opened the car, he glanced back for a second at Calleigh's grave, and he knew she would have been proud of their little girl.
"Can I drive, daddy?"
"No way, sweetie." He laughed, helping her into her seat. "But in twelve years I promise I'll let you."
"Okay." Emily agreed happily.
He couldn't even imagine how twelve years without Calleigh would be. The past two had already been hard enough.
With Emily by his side, Ryan started the engine and drove away, towards home, leaving behind his back the place where half of his heart was buried, under a bouquet of tulips and a silver phrase.
Calleigh Duquesne Wolfe, 1974-2007, Beloved wife, mother and friend.