When I read the post from Howie his grandmother died, it reminded me of a story I wrote a few years ago. Sometimes I have to put words on paper to understand what I am feeling. Hope you enjoy a stroy form my past. When a tragedy happens in your life even at a young age, the clarity and vision in your mind never forget. The years never seem to really pass, you can remember as it happened yesterday. The year was 1970; my wife was 14 years old hanging out with older cousins who were maybe a little to advanced for their age. She was turning into quite the party animal going to parties, drinking, hanging with friends. Yes, you remember the days. It was Halloween night; her parents were going to an adult party in town and would drop her off to stay the night with cousins. They were to go out together trick or treating, or as some may remember, going around neighborhoods trashing homes. I never did this, ha. As they assembled downtown, she ran into some friends, a boy she liked, accompanied by his best friend and girlfriend. She told her cousins she was going to a party with these friends. But, no, you are supposed to stay with us tonight and stay the night at our house! Yes, I know, do not worry; I will have them drop me off at your house when we are due home. When she arrived at the cousin’s home, she was running a little late and somewhat nervous entering the house with the fear of getting “Busted”. Relief soon came when her cousins said they also just arrived and their parents (Clinton & Mildred) were not home. A little time passed as they talked about their Halloween adventures when her uncle Willis came into the house with an uneasy look on his face, and yelled! Where have you been! Your dad was out looking for you! There has been an accident and your dad is “DEAD”. What if you could take back time, return to the past. Would it be possible to change someone’s fate? There is all the “what ifs” I should of stayed with my cousins that night, it was all my fault! He was out looking for me because I was not where I was supposed to be! She attended the funeral with shame and guilt. There were not many words said that day, she felt everyone knew the cause of the accident, just not the true underlying reason for his death. Her dad had just left grandma’s house pulling out onto the highway and was struck by a drunk driver traveling at excessive speed. Yes, hit by a drunk driver, but did everyone really know why he was there at that particular time? My wife did. She has lived with this guilt all her life. She has never been back to the cemetery sense that day. She has not had the courage to face her father for what she has done, and would become an emotional wreak even seeing the grave and headstone. Her worst fear would soon become reality. One week before Christmas 2002 a phone call from relatives revealed some sad news of the passing of her grandma (her father’s mother). She lived a full life reaching the ripe age of 98. Her cousin who lives three hours north of us will be driving down for the service. My wife was very close to her grandma and was offered a ride down to southern California with her cousin and daughter. She felt she needed to attend the service; she loved her grandma and show respects to the family. There was a dark cloud surrounding my wife with tears flowing as if the heavens opened up and unleashed her innermost fear. The family had burial plots pre-arranged for themselves and elders. Her grandma would be buried next to her “father”. She came up with every excuse in the book why she could not make the trip. I cannot get off work, the weather is too bad, I think I am coming down with something, and I feel sick. I told her it was time to face her fear, and this is something she needs to do. We both felt the strangest feeling there was a reason she must go, not so much for her grandma, some other reason. We both knew without even saying a word she would go alone. The past has caught up with the present, the guilt and fear is suddenly knocking at our door, and she must go it alone. My thoughts were with her that dark day as I watched the clock approaching 1:00. My wife and I have been married 27 years and our hearts and soul have become one. I could see through her eyes her father’s grave and headstone were covered with the dirt from grandma’s resting place. Her body was trembling and even though God was trying to hold and comfort her, she knew what must be done. The service was concluding and most people had left but a few close relatives. Her cousins said they would leave her alone for awhile and walked away. She knelt down and slowly uncovered her father’s headstone. Her brother came over, as it had been many years for him as well. They both sat holding each other with tears pouring as they viewed the uncovered headstone. She had faced her worse fear head on, but the guilt would remain. I did not get home from work until after five, and could not wait for her phone call. When she called telling me about the service I could sense relief in her voice. She said something wonderful had happened that I could not imagine. She had something to share with me “great news” but could not talk about it on the phone. I was anxious for her return, and what was the “great news” she had to tell. After she returned home, we sat together on the couch; I listened and watched her emotions reach their highest peak. After the service, friends and relatives showed their respects gathering at her uncle’s home. Hours had passed leaving my wife, three cousins, and one distance cousin talking about old times. The distance cousin said, well I have to get going, said her condolences and left. She returned a few minutes latter saying she had forgot her coat. My wife said, why don’t you stay for awhile and visit, I don’t really even know you. This cousin asked my wife if she could ask a personal and maybe unsettling question. How did your dad die? My wife gathered her emotions and said he was in a car accident hit by a drunk driver. He was out looking for me that Halloween night because I was not where I was supposed to be. It sounded like a song of “what” going around the room. Each one of her cousins said what? What? What? Is that what you think happened? My wife explained how Uncle Willis came in yelling where you were! No, no, Uncle Willis was talking to us; it was our dad (Clinton) who was out looking for us, not your dad! He wanted to gather us all together for the news of the accident. Your dad went out to grandmas that night to pick up his guns because they were going out in the morning to target practice. Your mom wanted to stay longer at the party, and would get a ride home with the neighbor. He was actually heading home making it an early night. The cousin she drove down with looked at her and said, this is the reason you needed to come. As my wife’s voice cracked with joy and emotion, she yelled, “It was not my fault!” I was not even a though in his mind that night! My wife has carried this burden for 32 years and was emotionally drained. Her body seemed to be surrounded with a warm glow with eyes radiant as she searched for the one word that best described how she now felt. She said I feel “enlightenment”. I have asked myself why I felt compelled to put my thoughts on paper, to tell a story from the past that has already been told. I do not want anyone to endure such sorrow. For what you believe to be true in heart may not be the truth as it should have been told. I hope this story has enlightened some who may now question their own fears and guilt. If there were one thing to learn from this story, it would be “do not assume anything”; things may not be as they appear. To my wife’s loving father May he rest in peace.