Yeah. That about sums it up.
There’s no answer. There never is.
Kelly slumps back against his mother’s gravestone, but it isn’t soft and comforting like her hugs used to be. He feels warm but he doesn’t feel safe.
A breeze blows through the graveyard. He tilts his head back letting it ruffle through his hair like fingers. Like a familiar touch. It calms him.
“I need him ma.”
Kelly’s voice is barely a whisper.
“I’m so scared. What will I do if I lose him.”
He closes his eyes and imagines his mother as he remembers her best, with a smile on her face. The way she looked when she waved him off to school everyday. The way she looked when she tucked him into bed at night. The way she looked when he skinned his knee on the front porch and she wiped the tears off his face and kissed it better.
“He’s over there and I’m not. I should be with him. When I was in that hospital in New Orleans he sat with me and held my hand. Who is going to sit with him if he gets hurt? Who will hold his hand?”
The wind licks gently at the tears on his face and he doesn’t care to wipe them away. Suddenly he feels like a child again. A child who has just lost everything on the brink of losing it all again. He wraps his arms around himself tight in a poor mockery of the embrace he really wants.
“Please mom. I know you and dad watched over me when I was out there. I need you guys to watch over him now too. He’s family. He has to come home. You have to meet him. You’ll love him. I promise you will. He’s brave, and kind and funny and he loves me ma.”
Despite everything a smile plays at edges of Kelly’s mouth.
“He loves me.” Kelly takes a deep breath. Lets the panic slip out of him and draws in another breath of clean air. His own words settle around him like a blanket, giving him the same safe feeling he always gets from Nick’s love.
“He’ll be okay right? I love him”
A part of Kelly knows the truth is Nick might not come back. Kelly remembers the way Mom used to let him have chocolate milk with dinner if he had a bad day. How she used to tell him everything would work out okay, and Kelly believed her because she was his mom and she made him a promise. Because sometimes you just have to believe.
“yeah. I’ll be okay.”
Kelly remembers his mom kissing him goodbye and saying I love you. Kelly knows that promise still holds true, he can still feel her love, even if he will never hear the words from her again. Kelly hopes she can still hear it when he says them now.
“I love you. We’ll be okay, don’t worry.”
Kelly looks up at the sky and it’s clear.
“He promised me and I believe him.”
He knows Nick is under the same sky.
“I believe in you Nick. You come home to me.”
Somewhere far away Nick is remembering the same promise.