I find solace in solitude. Being around others clogs up my senses. I can feel everything that others feel. I can feel depressive episodes, I can feel one’s will and desire for life starting to dwindle. I can feel their soul unravel as they decide whether or not to take that blade and slice open their forearms. I can feel their pain, like a seared knife slicing into their heart over and over again. I can feel them searching for mercy every day while facing the unavoidable truth that their torment is there to stay at night. Feeling this way constantly is unhealthy for anyone, and the magnitude in which I feel these things would be too much for anyone to bear.
I spend most of my days at the cemetery. The ones in the graves are the ones who give me what I need. A sense of calm. Peace. I look at each of the gravestones and just imagine what kind of life that person lived. For instance, there is a man named Ed that died when he was eighty-seven. He was a husband, a father, and a priest. I bet Ed lived a life that was filled to the brim with love. Between his family and God, I am almost positive that Ed constantly felt fulfilled and had a smile on his face. Every Christmas his wife, children, and grandchildren would join him at church for his sermon, and then they would all go back home to a wonderfully delightful dinner and enjoy one another’s company. Laughter, stories, and quality time were important to Ed. Ed was a great man, at least that is how I envision him to be.
There is one spot that I love the most at the cemetery. There is this massive tree, almost directly in the center of the cemetery, that I love to sit at just decompress. I feel most at peace at that tree. It is surrounded by graves of people who have many stories to tell, and yet it is so quiet. I can finally just focus on my emotions, but more often than not I just turn everything off and just close my eyes. I listen to the wind blow through the branches of the tree, shaking the leaves to make sure I know that it is there. I listen to the herds of birds fly above me. I listen to the quiet. When I am sitting at that tree, it is almost as if my soul sinks into the ground. I just feel myself melting into the ground, officially becoming one with the earth. Sometimes I put myself in such a relaxed state that I drift off and have dreams of the tree. I dream that the tree takes the shape of a woman, who welcomes me with open arms. This woman has long hair that is tinted green, and she has leaves tangled in her natural waves. Her arms are long, and when she hugs me it feels like she could easily fit an extra person in her bear hug. She smells like fresh-cut grass, one of my all-time favorite scents.
She has the most soothing way about her. She never speaks, and yet you always know what she is saying. She wants me to be happy. She wants me to feel this at peace forever. The life that I live is not fair to anyone, and she wants me to be protected. She feels like the mother that I never had. Conversations with her seem like they go on for hours. I never tire when I am with her.
The dream always ends the same way. After our in-depth conversations she always asks one thing as she strokes my cheek with her loving touch:
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could stay here with me forever?”
I always want to say yes, but before I do I abruptly wake up. Sometimes I try to go back to sleep so I can reply to her, but I am never able to.
This time around though I am determined to say yes before I wake up. I know it is crazy that I am this invested in a dream, but this recurring dream is one that I want to explore more. I need to know what happens if I tell her that I want to stay with her forever.
It was a cozy day. The leaves were starting to change color, it was cool but not too cold, and you could smell fall. It was my favorite time of year and my favorite time to spend at my most favorite place sitting near my most favorite tree.
As I was walking towards the tree I said hello to my pal Ed, and I was passing his grave I came to a sudden halt. I felt like someone had tried grabbing my arm in an effort to stop me dead in my tracks. I felt a sensation of fear and anxiety start to take over me. This was odd. This has never happened here before. I stood there, in disbelief for a few moments, and then decided to move on. I continued onward to my quest of getting to the tree when I swore that I heard my name in the wind.
“Go back, Rosemary. Go back.”
“Don’t say yes, Rosemary.”
Now my mind was officially playing tricks on me. I suppose I did not have a restful sleep the night before, so that could explain it. With the tree about fifty feet ahead of me I felt that feeling of fear and anxiety start to dissipate. I felt eager to feel that peace that I always felt at the tree, and I was excited to drift into a sweet slumber to explore what would happen if I said yes.
I picked up my pace, and a few moments later, there I was, standing right in front of the tree. I propped up my backpack to the right of me so I could lean against it with my back against the tree, and for some reason, I felt the need to say something out loud.
“I want to stay here forever.”
Then, without a moment’s notice, my eyes closed and I saw her coming towards me.
She was beautiful as always, with her arms extended out towards me and a loving smile on her face. I ran up to her and allowed her to embrace me in the most beautiful and mothering way, and I felt that peace that I so desired. I think I was in a lucid dream because I felt in complete control of my thoughts, feelings, and actions. Before I knew it I said:
“I know what you are going to ask me, and yes. I do think it would be wonderful if I stayed here with you forever.”
She looked at me with love in her eyes, like a mother looks at their newborn baby. She smiled and then started to open her mouth. I thought that she was finally going to speak to me when all of a sudden her beautiful tinted green hair turned into searing fire, and her loving embrace started to blister my skin. I felt my body start to turn to ash, and I saw what used to be my left arm fall to the ground near her rooted feet. As I felt myself burn and fall, I remember looking up at her and seeing her expression. She was still smiling, but it was not a comforting smile. It was the smile of someone who knows that they just won.
*FOUR YEARS LATER*
I find solace in solitude. I don’t have any friends because they emotionally overwhelm me, so instead, I like to hang out at a cool little cemetery that I found. Every now and again I like to play a little game where I come up with stories about the people in the graves, and I think today I am going to come up with a life story for someone named Rosemary.