by Dale Graumann
October 13, 1929
“Ashes to ashes,” the young minister solemnly read from the small black leather-bound book, he held in his hands. A sharp gust of early-fall wind tossed his fair hair around his head and lifted the tails of the long black coat that he wore.
Three people huddled close. A middle-aged couple stood, heads bent to the wind, apparently listening closely to the Reverend's slow lament. The third person, a young woman, stood statue-still. Her small hands were clasped tightly in front of her rigid body; her eyes were closed. A slow trickle of tears made their way down her pale cheeks, before dropping one by one onto the shoulder of her dark grey coat. The wind blew around her, and she shivered; the deep chill of the fall day appearing to penetrate clear to her soul.
She no longer listened to the unfamiliar words of the young preacher, nor did she give thought to the body already buried deep beneath the cold ground. Her thoughts focused solely on herself, and the cruel twist of fate recently dealt her. Gone was every dream and possibility she had ever longed for, there was nothing left for her now – no one to share her future, and no one to care about her past. Life as she knew it was over; she was alone.
The minister cleared his throat with a cough. Startled, the woman looked up to find three pairs of concerned eyes trained on her person.
“Miss Freiheit?” The minister prompted, “We will leave you alone with your brother a few minutes.”
The young woman slowly nodded her head then turned her attention back to the mound of dirt before her. Vaguely aware of her companions moving off toward their cars, she lowered herself to kneel beside the freshly covered grave. Fixing her eyes on a small polished stone that lay among the dirt, she softly recited a German prayer, and then reached across the dirt to take the small stone into her chilled hands, her sad eyes never leaving the mound in front of her.
“I will never forget you, Wilhelm,” she spoke to the huge mound of dirt in front of her, “Nor will I forget our Mother and Father. I don't know what will happen to me now, but you must not worry. Say hello to Mamma and Papa for me, I know they will be happy to see you again. Auf Wiedersehen, Wilhelm.” she wiped a solitary tear from her face, rose to her feet, and still clutching the small stone in her hand, walked away.