Excerpt from Finding My Way Back
I wasn’t sure how I felt about the task I was undertaking or what I expected to get out of it. Closure, maybe? No. After everything I’d been through, closure just didn’t seem adequate. Maybe I just needed to see. To be sure that I hadn’t mixed everything up in my dreams. But closure? No, definitely not to find closure.
I’d left Aunt Laura back at the hotel, telling her that I just needed some time to myself. She understood that. After sitting at my bed side for two weeks in the hospital, she needed some time to herself. Wow. Two weeks. For me, it had seemed much longer. Between Valeria and my dreams, it had seemed like a year. But you weren’t supposed to dream when you were in a coma. Were you?
I parked the car and grabbed the cardboard box that sat on the seat next to me, bracing myself for what I was going to do. To see. I slipped out of the car, straightened my dress and began walking across the lawn, inwardly grateful that I’d decided to wear flats instead of heels. I kept up this inward dialogue...flats vs. heels...as I walked down the path to my destination. My heart beat faster as I got closer, and my palms began to sweat around the box I was now gripping so tight that my hands began to hurt.
I paused for one brief moment - eyes closed - breathing a silent prayer.
Then I looked up.
They shared a single monument:
Charles Morgan Jordan, born March 22, 1969
Emily Elizabeth Jordan, born August 18, 1970
One shared date. The date they died. Three weeks ago today. Did they seem less dead because I’d missed the memorial? No. I still had violent dreams of the night my parents were murdered.
In a way, I was glad I had missed the ceremony with its endless line of mourners and their endless barrage of condolences. As it was, I’d only had to hear “I’m so sorry for your loss” three times: once, in the hospital after I woke up and the doctor expressed her sympathy, once in the police station when the detectives assigned to my parents case told me how sorry they were, and then at my hotel, when Matt’s parents came by. At least that one was genuine.
I took the flowers out of the box I carried and spread them across the mounds of dirt. I wasn’t prepared for the violence of the grief that stabbed my heart repeatedly, assaulting me like some vicious killer. I felt like I was dying. Falling to my knees, I crawled to the monument, tracing their names, tears running down my cheeks. I’m not sure how long I lay there on the dirt before I cried myself to sleep.
I woke up and looked around. I wasn’t in the cemetery any more. I was back in Summer Cove in Dave’s Diner. There weren’t any customers – just Jessie – wiping down the booth where I found myself sitting.
She turned her auburn head toward me and winked.
“It wasn’t a coma, you know.”
“Wh…what did you say?”
She stopped wiping down the table, looked me in the eye, one hand on her hip.
“Your coma. It wasn’t real. It was drug induced because of your head injury.”
“O-k-a-y,” I said slowly. I was trying to wrap my head around being back in Summer Cove again. Had I been dreaming all along.
Jessie shook her head and rolled her eyes at me, plopping herself down in the seat across from mine. “You weren’t always this dense. Your. Coma. Wasn’t. Real.” She gestured toward me impatiently, rolling her eyes again, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what she was trying to get at.
Shaking her head, she leaned across the table and whispered in my ear. “Maybe Matt’s coma isn’t real either.”
It took several seconds for that to sink in, then a smile spread across my face. I was just about to thank her when she grabbed my arm, cocked her head to the right, eyes glassy like one of those Stepford wives and said, “You’d better wake up. You’re asleep in a cemetery and you never know who might be watching.”