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The Visitor

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I went to visit my daughter's gravesite. Skylawn is about a mile from the Pacific Ocean. From the edge of the cemetery, you can see a sliver of the water. That's when it's not foggy.

As soon as I got out of my car, a cold wind grabbed me. Wind and fog -- Ariela's kind of weather. I went back to my car for my sweatshirt and started to climb up the hill to Ariela's site. I was so teary that I couldn't find her marker. I saw Chinese names and then Spanish names. Where were the Jewish names? I got confused and thought I might have to go back to the office and ask for directions. Then I remembered the cypress tree and the boxwood hedge.

I started to walk towards my landmarks and saw she already had a visitor. I stopped short and pulled out my phone to take his photograph. Can you see him overlooking her grave? He was too still to be real. I took one step forward. He turned and looked at me. We stared at each other for a while. I remembered how much Ariela liked Bambi when she was a little girl. She'd watch that video with the look of wonder little kids get when everything is believable.

A few more steps. This was his territory, and I intruded on his space. He belonged. I was the visitor. He stood and continued to gaze in my direction. Still on guard. Was he waiting for me?

I approached as quietly as I could, thinking maybe, just maybe, he might stay. One step at a time.

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