• When she had first heard the news, she didn’t believe it. Refused to believe it. However, she couldn’t deny the evidence in front of her.
    With dry eyes she stared at his lifeless body as he lay in the casket. He looked so peaceful, like he was just sleeping. She half-expected him to wake up and say he was joking. He loved pulling pranks like that.
    “Come on honey, let’s go find a seat. The service is about to start.” Her mother led her to a seat, but her eyes remained fixed on the casket.
    She barely heard the preacher during the sermon. It all seemed like some sort of crazy dream. Only the small spasms pain in her stomach told her otherwise.
    The next thing she knew she was at the cemetery. How she got there, she couldn't remember but the sky was dark and gray, and she felt the same way as people around her cried. She, however, didn’t shed a single tear.
    Wordlessly she watched the casket get lowered in the ground. The hole was filled, the preacher said a few more words, and finally people began to leave one by one until only her and her mother were left.
    “Let’s go,” her mother spoke softly. She shook her head in disagreement.
    “We want to stay here a little longer,” she whispered, placing a hand on her protruding belly.
    Her mom nodded in understanding. “I’ll be in the car.” Then she turned and walked away, leaving her standing there alone next to his grave.
    The skies gave a loud rumble as rain began to pour down. She lifted her head skywards, knowing that it was crying for him. Slowly, tears finally rolled down her face, mingling with the rain and leaving a salty taste in her mouth.
    Why? Her heart cried out as the tears came quicker. You promised to be here for me. For our baby. Why did you have to go? “You promised,” she choked out, looking at the grave. “You promised me!”
    Soaked and chilled to the bone, she stood there and sobbed. How could she live without him?
    She was surprised to feel the rain suddenly stop. It took a second, but she realized someone was holding an umbrella over her head. Turning, she saw a man, perhaps only a year older than her, holding it. He gave her a sad smile. “I’m sorry,” was all he said. Digging into his pocket, he pulled out a handkerchief and held it out to her.
    For a moment, all she did was stare at it. Then she looked up at him, pain etched in her face. Reaching out, she clung onto his shirt like a fightened child, tears still leaving streaks on her face.
    It was strange, but she didn’t want comfort and reassurance from family and friends. They would only say empty words that wouldn’t satisfy her lonely heart. But perhaps this man could.
    “What am I suppose to do?” She sobbed. “I-I don’t think I can go on without him!”
    The man simply stood there as she cried. After what felt like years, he finally spoke.
    “Huh?” She lifted her head, the tears slowly stopping for a moment. “Breathing?”
    “Yeah. Breathing.” He raised an eyebrow slightly when she didn’t respond. “You know, it's the thing that keeps us alive?”
    “I know what it is,” she scowled.
    He smiled tenderly. “Good. Then you can do it.”
    Not understanding, she stared at him blankly.
    “Starting now, just breathe. It’ll be hard at first- it always is- but after time breathing will become easier.”
    She merely held tightly unto his shirt. She managed to eventually find the words to speak. “How can you be so sure? I don’t think I’m strong enough to do that!” Tears started to fall again.
    “Maybe not. But with that little one’s help, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it,” he replied gently, referring to her unborn child.
    Absently she placed a hand on her belly. His child. “I…I…” How could she respond to that?
    “Come on, let’s get you to your car.” He led her to her car, where he mother was waiting for her.
    Helping her into the car, he then stepped back. As the car pulled away, she twisted around in her seat to see the man still standing there. He waved, so she waved back before facing forwards.
    Leaning back into the seat, she closed her eyes and let out a shaky breath. Then with a steady rhythm she started a chant in her head as rain fell on top of the roof of her car.
    Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in…

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Three Years Later…

    “Mommy, Mommy! I found it! I found it!” A little girl cried as she pointed to her father’s grave.
    “Shh, keep your voice down,” her mother hushed. She looked up at the gray sky, thankful that it wasn’t going to rain on his anniversary this year.
    Stepping in front of his grave, she bent down and placed flowers on it. Her daughter laid a dandelion she’d just picked next to the other flowers. This caused her to smile despite the sadness she felt.
    Turning around, she saw the man from three years ago, only he looked a little older then when she first met him.
    “Hi,” she replied.
    “How are you?” He asked.
    She glanced back at his grave, silent for a minute. Finally she looked back at him. “You were right.”
    He cocked a brow. “Hm?”
    “Breathing. It’s easier now.”
    He smiled. “I told you that you could do it.”
    After that, they just stood there in silence. Eventually she said, “I guess I should go. It’s getting close to nap time. Let’s go Sweetie,” she beckoned to her daughter.
    “Okay!” The child eagerly grabbed her mother’s hand. Together they walked away, the man watching them leave.
    “Oh.” She looked back at him. “Thank you. For everything.”
    Her heart feeling lighter than when she came, she smiled as she turned and headed to the car.
    He stood there as her car pulled out of the parking lot. Stuffing his hands into his pockets, he looked at the grave.
    Breath in, breath out. Breath in…