It's my senior year. The winter formal dance is on Saturday. The theme is "it's a wonderful life". I've only gone to one winter formal. It's the girls choice dance. I never had a choice. I would have liked to have gone to this one.
But I can't.
The girls around me buzz about dates, dresses, hair appointments, who is doing who's makeup, the activities surrounding the dance. The boys feign indifference to their status. We women know they care that they've been asked.
People ask me if I'm going. I tell them, simply, I can't. Few ask me why I can't. When they do, I lie. I'm grounded. Everyone knows why I'm grounded. Or why I would be.
The dance's venue is a greenhouse, pretentiously named "Le Jardin" as if there was anything French about a greenhouse in Sandy, Utah. I drive past that greenhouse every day. I've seen it every day since it's construction. I could leave my house and be there in 4 minutes.
Except that I can't.
I can't because the greenhouse is attached to the Larkin Cemetery, which didn't allow vertical headstones until 2009. Statues of Jesus are scattered among the headstones that lie flat in the ground, hidden by the grass like predators. The mountains stand as a backdrop. As if we needed a reminder how insignificant our lives are.
Among the 76 acres is a headstone, not particularly interesting or unique or prominent, with the names of people who died on August 2, 1997. Across the bottom is written theirs was a joyous life filled with love for each other and their children, Hannah and Samuel.
Me. Hannah. Me.
I can't because it's a place more than a school dance. It's the place I called "the loving place" when I was little, and it's the place that taught me the world can be hideous. It's the place where, every so often, others leave flowers. I find comfort in those flowers because others still remember and care and hurt. It's a place that's part of me; the part of me that I don't bring out.
And I can't because sometimes tears inexplicably start streaming.
I just can't.