all of the words burned like tiny phoenix feathers

My grandfather had a massive stroke and died at the foot of my grandmother 21 years ago today.
I was alerted and pulled from Mrs. Holloway's English classroom.
It was the first time I glanced a face that announced bad news without saying a word.
It was the first time my stomach hit pit sensation directly from the emotional heaviness in the air.

I was shuttled into my parents car and the drive towards my father's hometown was long and all I did was watch the guardrails roll by and listen to my parents emit low sounds of grief.
My fourteen year old self was unsure of the process of mourning if I recall.
I was so sad and unsure of what was happening and all I can remember really is the way the funeral home smelled - like the floral department of a grocery store- and the way my grandmother held her hands together.
She held her hands together so tightly, like the way her 90 year old hands now grip her cane.
She is a tough lady.

Today at the gym I was chatting to my friend Karen and she and I got to discussing love letters. The writing of love letters. She was telling me about her and her husband and how they wrote each other love letters years ago as they had a long distance relationship.
When she told me about it I could see this light pour out of her face and I bathed in it for a second while I peddled on the stationary bike.
Love letters are so powerful and at some point we just stop.
I told her to write her husband one today. I told her I would do the same.
We laughed big laughs that ended the conversation, but it got inside of me and I can't stop thinking about love letters.

When my grandmother got back to her house 21 years ago she took the bundled love letters from her dark brown amoire, they were tied up with string, she took them out and held them tightly in her hands.
She walked up the small hill by her house to the old barrel where she burned her paper trash.
She walked up to the rusty barrel and started a fire with the words of her lover.
She burned them all.
He was gone and the words only lived inside of her heart now.

All of the words burned like tiny phoenix feathers
and floated throughout the backyard of a woman so so sad in Southeastern Ohio

This is what happened 21 years ago today.