Liza hopped through the snow with two expensive bundles of Christmas tree branches under her arm. She felt silly. What was the purpose of this tradition? Casey and her parents were gone. There may or may not be an afterlife, but it didn’t matter because here they were just corpses rotting underground in fancy boxes. Suppose there was a heaven. Were they really looking down thinking, “Oh, thank God that Liza remembered the grave blankets!”
Locating them in this mammoth cemetery was always like an expedition. She felt like she should have brought navigation instruments. When she finally found them, she was sweating and the fronts of her thighs were numb. Casey’s headstone wasn’t done yet. The metal marker poked out of the snow next to her parents. Liza dug out the front of their grave a bit so their names were visible: Elizabeth and Jonathan Kearn.
John was Liza’s stepfather. She never knew her biological dad. According to her mom, they hadn’t been dating long and he fell off the face of the earth before she realized that she was pregnant. She gave Liza her own name, Elizabeth Richter, making her the only female junior that she’d ever met. It worked. There was never any confusion because Mom went by Betty. Anyway, Mom married John when Liza was a baby. John was always good to Liza. She couldn’t complain.
Liza anchored the grave blankets in the snow. There was no way she was burrowing down to the grass with her bare hands. The ground was probably too hard anyway. She stood there awkwardly for a few minutes wondering why people visited graves. It wasn’t as if she would forget about them if she didn’t come here. She would prefer to remember them in a happier way. All she could think about when she came here was that they were dead. What else could she think about when she was standing on top of their dead bodies staring that their headstone?
When it seemed like a respectful amount of time had passed, she wished the ground a Merry Christmas Eve and hopped through the snow back to her car.