Once, in August, while visiting my brother’s grave in Tucson, I drove slowly up the roadway between the rows of plots, trying to remember exactly where he was buried. The graveyard is a maze, but I knew there was a tree beside an adjacent road, a wide mesquite, big as an oak, whose skinny leaves provide a permissive mix of shade and sunlight, like a bamboo curtain or a green sieve. I saw the tree and a woman who was kneeling at a grave in the shade of it. When she saw me approach, she stood, walked quickly to her car, and began driving slowly away.
When I parked my car and walked over to my brother’s grave, I saw fresh flowers and wondered if she’d left them there. I looked up. The woman had stopped some distance away and was out of her car, staring back at me. I watched for a long time and began to walk toward her, thinking to ask if she was the one who left the flowers and did she love my brother Carlos. Did she know who he really was, and why he was even on the earth? If she knew that, then maybe she could tell me why anybody is here, why I’m here.
I never reached her, though. She turned, got back into her car and drove off.
My father later told me that once every year someone leaves flowers on Carlos’ grave on a certain day in August. My parents do not know who it is, the exact day, or the meaning of it, nor have they ever seen anyone else at his graveside. It is not his birthday, nor is it the anniversary of his death. My father said whoever it was has not missed the day in over fifteen of the years since Carlos died.
It must have been the woman I saw. She was tall and blond. I remember she wore a summer dress the color of mangoes.
(Note: You can hear this story read by Marcus Speh at this link. He does a marvelous job with it.) Here is the link: