tagNon-EroticPrayer for Passing of a Loved One

Prayer for Passing of a Loved One


To the reader: There is no sex in this story. It's the story of a brief encounter between two men at the gravesite of the woman they both loved, each in their own way. Please remember, this is fiction.


"Grant your forgiveness oh Lord, to the soul of your servant Samantha that, being dead to this world, she may live now to you alone, and whatever sins she committed through human frailty, do you, in your mercy, absolve. I pray through Christ our Lord. Amen."

In my life I've had to say goodbye to my parents, two of my sisters, and my son. Right now I'm praying at the grave of the one person that I have loved for almost forty years. She was not my wife; right now my wife is at home working on one of her new books. The grave I'm standing in front of contains the body of Samantha. Samantha was my love. She was part of my heart and my soul. She was as important to me as the air around me. Now she's gone. I feel as though my heart has been cut out. I feel so alone.

I also felt the tears start to stream down so I covered my face with my hands and let the emotions flow.

"How did you know her?" The disembodied voice made me jump several feet away and turn around suddenly. I saw a young man, maybe 25 years old with curly blond hair, looking down at the grave.

"I'm sorry. You scared me. Uh, what did you say?" I asked wiping my face.

"I asked how you knew her. Mom. Mrs. Cox. Samantha. You were standing on her grave."

"I'm sorry. There's no marker and I didn't know where the head and foot was. Oh, how did I know her? We've been friends since high school. I saw the obituary in the paper this week and was saddened at her passing so I thought I would pay my respects."

"I overheard your prayer. It was a prayer for the passing of a loved one. I know because I recited it every day this week. I miss her. She was my mother after all so I should love her and miss her. But I don't recognize you. You aren't a member of our church and I know just about all of her and dad's friends and I've never met you before. So, how did you know mom?"

"Like I said, we were friends. We went to high school together and we've kept in touch over the years. That's all."

"What's your name?"

"My name is Raymond. Raymond Adams." I held out my hand to shake his but he didn't reach out and take it. It just hung there in space for a moment before I put it down.

"I can't remember ever hearing your name before."

"Well probably because I'm not important enough to mention. We only saw each other every few years. No big deal." At this point I had an eerie feeling about the way the conversation was going. I thought it might be a good idea to offer my condolences and make a hasty retreat. "You say you're her son? Well I want to offer my condolences at the loss of your mother. She was a good woman. Everybody will miss her. Now if you will excuse me, I have to run." I turned and started to walk back to my car.

"Please wait." He said to my back.

I did what I will soon regret; I stopped and turned back to him. His head was down and his hands were shoved deep in his pockets. I couldn't see his eyes but I could see the glistening of a tear falling to the ground. He stood quietly for a long time just staring at the disturbed earth at his feet.

"Can we talk?" He asked quietly without ever looking up.

I walked back to him and for some unknown reason I reached out and put my hand on his shoulder. It was just a simple gesture of reassurance on my part but it must have meant something more to him. He slowly lifted his head and looked me in the eyes and mumbled "Thanks."

I pointed to one of the reflection benches and said "Let's go over there and sit. We can talk."

We sat quietly for a few minutes before he was composed enough to talk.

"Mister Adams, you were right, my mother was a good woman. She's always been there for us whenever we needed her. She always gave us everything and never asked anything for herself. I don't know if you know but I've got a sister and a brother. The three of us got everything we ever needed. Not always everything we wanted but everything we needed. Mostly what we got was discipline and love. We're all out of college and on our own now and if I must say so myself, I think we're pretty OK. And that's a large part of mom's doing. She taught us the difference between right and wrong, made sure we went to church regularly, made sure we worked hard in school, and was always there for every play and game we were in. She gave and gave and gave and we took and took and took."

All I could do was sit quietly and listen. I didn't exactly know where this conversation was going but I just sat politely and waited.

"I'm sorry if I was a bit abrupt with you a few minutes ago. I was just surprised by the litany you spoke. Mom taught it to us when we were young. She said it was a special prayer for someone we loved very much. You say that you were just friends? Well, I believe you must have loved her too, otherwise you wouldn't have said what you said."

"I'm sorry Craig, I don't know what to say right now. All I can..."

"How did you know my name?" He looked me right in the eye as he asked.

Did I say that? Aw, shit! Now I've got to explain how I know his name. "Well, the last time I saw your mother we talked about our kids and our lives. She told me about you and your brother and your sister. She told me quite a bit and described you quite well. She bragged about the three of you a lot, and I guess I did the same thing talking about my family."

"When did you last see her?"

"We bumped into each other at the mall six or seven months ago. We stood there catching up on the last few years and then decided to sit and have lunch and continue our conversation. That's when she told me about you."

"How did she seem to you then? I mean, how did she act?"

"I guess she acted fine. I can't remember anything out of the ordinary. We were just talking and catching up on the last few years; nothing unusual. Now that I think back, at the end when we parted she did say something strange. She said "Forever goodbye." I thought that she was just quoting Shelley. I remember how she always loved poetry. I didn't think a whole lot about it at the time."

"Yeah, mom did love poetry. She's been suffering with cancer for over a year. I'm going to guess that it was her way of admitting her own mortality and saying a final goodbye to someone she cared about. She said the same thing to dad the day before... well you know, the last day. She must have loved you very much."

Oh, crap, what am I into now? What does he know about us? I can't tell him at his mother's gravesite that I was her lover for almost forty years. I can't tell him that I was there before he and his sister was born. How the hell can I tell him that he's named after me? I've just got to be patient and not say too much.

"I didn't know anything about your mother's illness, Craig. Like I said I just saw the obituary this week. I'm so sorry that she suffered so long. I know that she's at rest now."

The conversation hit a lull and we both just sat and listened to the gentle wind blow through the trees for several minutes.

"You're my father aren't you?" He asked without looking up from his hands.

Without missing a beat I replied, "No I'm not. Your father is the man that raised you and took you to hockey practice. Your father is the man that worried about you when you were sick. Your father is at home now mourning the loss of his wife."

"My father has Alzheimer's. He doesn't remember much. I'm not even sure if he realizes that mom's gone."

"I'm sorry to hear about your father. I only met him once and then it was only brief. Judging from the man I see sitting before me now I would say he was a good father, I mean before the disease robbed him of himself. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease."

"Well, he had his moments." I could see a look of concern on his face as he asked me again, "Are you my real father?"

"Why are you asking me that? What makes you think that your mother would do something like that to your family? That's disrespecting her memory."

He paused, took a deep breath and said, "Just before mom died she gave me a letter. It was sealed and she asked me not to open it. She said it was for someone very special to her and that someday I would know them and give it to them. I know now I was to give it to you. You see, I didn't do what she asked. Instead I opened the letter and read it. It put my mom in a whole new light for me. I now see her quite differently. I still love her, but I see a different person now. I'll go to the car and get it for you."

As he walked over to a car at the curb I had a minute to gather my lost wits. All I could do is wonder what the letter would reveal. I'm worried. How is my life going to change after reading it? If he's already read it what is he going to do?

He sat back down and said, "Mom said I'd know who to give this to but she didn't say how I would know. After I read it I now know. Here, this is for you."

I took out the two pages and unfolded them and read.

My dear Raymond.

By the time you get this letter I will be gone. I'm not sad about dying but I am sad about not being able to say goodbye to you face to face. For all the years I've known you I have loved you and cherished every moment we had together. There were a lot of events in my life that made me feel happy and loved and being with you was among my most intimate memories. You always made me laugh when I was down or hurting. You always came to comfort me when I called. You always understood when I had to say goodbye again. There were times when I was alone that I would smile just thinking about you. You filled my heart with such joy just by being you. A love that strong cannot be undone by death. I believe in an afterlife and in heaven. I believe that I've been a good person on earth and will have a special place after I die. I know that you will too. So I will be waiting for you to spend eternity with me when it's your time to make the journey. I don't know how God makes it happen but I can't imagine an afterlife without all the people I loved on earth, and that includes my family and you.

You never asked me why I named my son Craig and I respect you for that. The reason is that I wanted to give him your middle name just in case he was your son. I so wanted to have a baby with you when we were together that weekend in Ocean City. I don't know if it was wrong of me but I hoped and I prayed that I was pregnant when I left. I just wanted a part of you growing inside me that would be a part of both of us. When Craig was born I was overjoyed that he had your curly blond hair. I knew that he was ours. However, over time I came to question that conclusion because he also has some of the same traits as my husband, like a quick temper and broad sly grin. I really don't know who his father is. I just hoped that he was ours. When he was born DNA testing wasn't as available as it is today so his paternity was never proven. And the older he got the more I didn't want to know. I believe in my heart that he is our son and I will go to my grave believing that.

I want you to know that I got rid of all of the little tokens that you gave me over the years, so I have no memories of you except those in my heart. No love letters, no post cards from the places we stayed, and no photographs. I don't want to leave my family with a legacy of doubt after I'm gone. I read that book "Bridges of Madison County" and I don't want my children learning about us. I don't need trinkets to remember you by anyway.

Don't be sad at my passing. We've had a good life together even if we only saw each other every year so. Those times together were beautiful. Please remember me on my birthday and not my death day. Remember that I have loved you since the day we met in Mister Duncan's band class and I will leave this world loving you.

Browning said it better than I can. She said, "I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! And, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."

Forever goodbye,


I put the two pages back in the envelope and walked over to my car to cry. Craig just sat on the stone bench and waited quietly for my return. When I returned I looked him in the eye and said, "Who else knows about the letter?"

"Nobody, just me. I can't destroy everybody else's memories of mom. I just can't."

"Thank you for that. I imaging that you've got a lot of questions. Ask anything that you want and I'll answer as best I can. I won't lie to you any more."

I could see the wheels spinning in his mind as he formed the questions that might change his life forever.

"Mister Adams, we are having a memorial dinner in mom's name at the church this coming Saturday. The proceeds will go to one of mom's favorite charities, reading literacy. I would like it if you would come."

This took me completely by surprise.

"Craig, I had expected questions about your mother and me and what we did. I had expected you to accuse me of hurting your family. I even expected you to get angry at me for possibly being your father. But, I never expected you to ask me to dinner. There isn't some ulterior motive here is there? Are you planning to humiliate me in front of your family and friends? Are you planning on ruining your mother's memory? Well, I won't be a part of it. No sir! I loved your mother just as much as you did and won't be a part of anything that would hurt your family or her memory."

"No, no, no, I wouldn't do anything like that. I especially won't do anything to hurt my family. I just thought that you and I could get to know each other a little better and you could meet my sister and brother. I won't ever tell anybody about mom's letter. I promise."

"Well, I'll have to think about it and let you know. Let's just leave it at that. OK?"


I sat back and thought about how much trouble I could cause by showing up at that charity dinner. No way was I going to go. I just wanted to be polite to Craig. I did have one question of my own simmering in my head that I wanted to ask though.

"Craig, I was wondering if you were interested in what you mother said. She wasn't interested in knowing if you and I were related. I was just wondering if you were. Do you want to do the DNA test to prove who your father is, and know one way or the other?"

"I thought about that. I think I agree with mom. She didn't want to know and I think I'm going to go with what I already know. Whoever my father is biologically won't take anything away from the father that raised me. It's not important to me to know. I think that I'm just going to think of you as a friend of the family and treat you as one. If you don't want anything to do with us, that's OK too. I know that if mom loved you then you must be OK so I'm going to go with that."

"I can respect that. I would like to meet your family. I'll consider the dinner next weekend."

We sat quietly both knowing that the meeting was over but not wanting to part. I stood and walked over to the gravesite and Craig soon came along side me. We said a prayer for the passing of a loved one together."

"Grant your forgiveness oh Lord, to the soul of your servant Samantha that, being dead to this world, she may live now to you alone, and whatever sins she committed through human frailty, do you, in your mercy, absolve. I pray through Christ our Lord. Amen."

We turned and went our separate ways.

"Forever goodbye, Craig."

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