“I’m sorry I’m a few days late. I tried to get here Monday. I don’t know what happened.”
As I worked, an old man in uniform walked up behind me.
“Friend of yours?”
He looked down at me with the most knowing eyes I’d ever seen. His cane wobbled as he sat down beside me.
“Got too many of those of my own,” he said, a little out of breath from sitting down. “Used too many crayons myself.”
“He was my best friend, actually. Went in together. I watched him-” I don’t know why I blurted that out to him, but my words trailed off before I could finish. I dropped the crayon in the process.
The old man picked it up and began working with it slowly as I helped him hold the piece of paper in place. I could tell he’d done this many times before. Even though he was a bit shaky, the half he did was much cleaner than mine.
“Is he the only one you have to do?” he asked as he finished up.
“I’d say you’re lucky," he chuckled. "But none of us are really lucky, are we?”
I wasn’t sure how to answer him, so I said the only thing that came to mind.
“We’re lucky to be alive, aren’t we?”
He got to his feet. I did the same. He shook my hand and saluted my friend before he started walking off. He didn’t get too far before he paused, looked over his shoulder, and said, “Try to come on Monday next year. Don’t know if I’ll be here or not, but there's a whole lot more of us here that day who know that none of us, them or guys like you and me, are really lucky.”
I looked down at the grave rubbing in my hands. I traced the letters of my best friend’s name with my finger.
I made it out. He didn’t. All I had left of him now was this crayon rubbing of his name from his headstone.
Part of me knew the old man was right. None of us are really lucky.