But instead, the sun is shining in a sky that has no clouds and is a perfect robin's egg blue. Birds are singing. The grass is a vibrant shade of green. It feels like spring, even though it's actually fall.
After a week of near-constant rain the great city of Miami has been washed clean and made new again. Everything glistens and shines like it was just polished. Even the cemetery where we're going to lay my son to rest appears to be alive again.
The limo that my husband and I are riding in pulls to a stop at the gravesite. Peter turns to me and takes my hand.
"We're here, Patricia," he says as if I can't see that for myself.
"I can't do this, Peter," I whisper while choking back the tears. "I can't bury another child. I just can't and it's unfair of God to expect me to."
"I know, Patty. I know," he tries to comfort me by patting my hand.
I snatch my hand back from his grip, ignoring his hurt look and turn to watch the mourners filing past the window. "How many of these people actually knew him?" I ask, knowing that Peter doesn't know the answer any more than I do.
Tim was a very private person, even with his family. If he didn't want you to know something, then you wouldn't know about it. That's how he was able to hurt himself for as long as he did. He was always very good at hiding things from me.
"We have to get out of the car, now, Patricia," Peter informs me as he takes my hand again and starts to pull me out.
I allow him to lead me around the hole that will be my son's final resting spot and over to the chairs set up for family. When we get there I wish I had insisted on Matthew, our youngest son, coming with us. But Matthew and Tim had such a tumultuous relationship that I didn't see the point. Especially since Matthew is beating himself up with guilt. Oh, he knows that Tim's death wasn't his fault, but they argued last week and hadn't spoken since.
I don't know what Tim said to get Matthew all riled up, but his last words to his brother were, 'As if you care. Sometimes I wish you weren't my brother.' before he slammed the phone down and stomped out of the house.
Tim tried calling back. Several times. But Matthew refused to talk to him. Then three days later we got the call I have been dreading ever since I found out he was to carry a gun and badge for his job.
Peter helps me sit down and then takes the chair to my left. Matthew should be sitting in the one to my right, but he's not. It's empty.
Finally all the mourners have filed in around and behind us and they bring the flag-draped coffin over.
My oldest son is lying in that coffin. In his best suit and tie. I know he hated to wear them, but I just couldn't bury him in jeans and a tee-shirt.
The honor guard gives a 21 gun salute and then the bagpipes start to play Amazing Grace. That used to be a song of comfort for me, but now every time I hear it I'll think of this day. And hear the sweet sound of the pipes drifting on the breeze. A breeze that carries the smell of the ocean.
Tim loved it here in Miami. He never truly felt at home in New York. But here, surrounded by sun and surf, not to mention all the pretty girls, he finally found himself a home. A place to be himself. To be free from the guilt of Travis' death.
I close my eyes and let the sound of the priest's voice carry me away. I don't need to hear the words. They're just a shortened version of the funeral mass he said at the church, anyway. Plus, I've already buried one child. The ritual is horrifically familiar. Of course, there is more to be said about Tim's life than the one that died in 1980.
As the priest drones on about how Tim is in a better place, I find myself thinking back to that day, 32 years ago, when I found out Tim was on his way.
Peter and I had been married for a couple of years and hadn't conceived yet. So it was with a mixture of fear and hope that I went to my doctor.
"Congratulations, Mrs. Speedle," Doctor Anderson said as he came back into the room. "You're going to have a baby."
"You're sure?" I asked. There had been several false pregnancies over the last two years.
"I'm positive," he told me with a smile. "Here's a list of do's and don'ts. A prescription for pre-natal vitamins and calcium. And a referral to the blood lab."
"Blood lab?" I questioned as I took the papers from his hand.
"Don't worry about it. All pregnant women have blood taken to make sure everything's fine. It's just routine. I don't expect there to be anything wrong since you're young and healthy." Again with the smile, this one making me feel dirty, and a pat on the knee.
I gave a weak smile in return. "Thank you Doctor," I said as I slipped off the table and reached for my coat.
"Not a problem," he responded as he turned to leave. "Don't forget to make another appointment for next month." And with that he was gone.
As I walked to the front to pay, I couldn't stop the shivers that wracked my body as I imagined him examining me for the next seven or eight months and then delivering my baby. I couldn't do it. The man creeped me out. I was going to have to find another OB-GYN.
After I left the hospital, leaving almost a pint of my blood behind, I drove to the restaurant where Peter was working. He owned several and tried to spend at least one day a week at each one.
"Hey, Mrs. S!" I was greeted by the kitchen staff as I made my way from the backdoor to the tiny office near the front where I knew Peter could be found.
"Hi!" I called out in return.
"Patty?" Peter stuck his head out of the office door and watched me walk towards him.
My heart skipped a beat, as it always did, when I looked at my husband. Even after two years of marriage, I had a hard time believing he loved me. He was so very handsome and could have had anyone in our high school. Yet, he chose me.
"Peter!" I called out as I ran the last few steps, throwing myself into his arms.
He caught me easily enough and instead of setting me on my feet he buried the fingers of his left hand in my hair and kissed me long and deep. Right there in front of his whole staff.
When we finally broke for air I couldn't stop the blush from creeping up my neck at the applause, wolf whistles and cat calls at our very public display of affection.
"I have good news," I whispered as he finally set me on my feet.
"Yeah?" he whispered back.
With a nod I bit my lower lip, took him by the hand to lead him into the office, and pulled the pregnancy test out of my pocket.
He just stared at it. "Is that what I think it is?" he asked.
"If you think it's a pregnancy test, then yes it is."
With a loud gulp he asked, "Does it say you're pregnant?"
A huge smile split my face as I responded. "Yes it does."
My pregnancy started out just like the books said it should, except I was sick all the time. I even lost almost 20 pounds which I could ill afford to lose in the first place.
Then at 15 weeks I started bleeding. My new doctor, Dr. Markham, managed to stop it. She then put me on limited bed rest, meaning I could get out of bed for only five hours a day.
Then at 24 weeks, I started having contractions. Dr. Markham put me on restricted bed rest, meaning I was allowed out of bed for only one hour a day.
At 30 weeks I again started having contractions and this time Dr. Markham admitted me to the hospital and put me on complete bed rest, meaning I wasn't allowed out of bed. At all.
This caused quite a strain on my marriage. Peter wanted to be with me, but his restaurants demanded a lot of his time.
When I began having contractions again at 36 weeks, I was really hoping this was it. That Dr. Markham would let me deliver. I could have kissed her when she agreed that it was time to allow my child to be born.
So it was after 72 hours of labor and nearly two hours of pushing, that Timothy Daniel Speedle made his appearance into the world, screaming his displeasure for all to hear.
I did my best to make Tim happy, but he was a very demanding baby. Nothing I did seemed to work.
I took him to several different doctors and they all said the same thing: "He'll calm down once you set a routine for him." And, "You're just a nervous mother. Once you calm down, so will he."
Well, he didn't. And I wasn't a nervous mother. I was tired. Tired of him screaming and crying.
I tried to rest whenever I could get him to sleep, like all the books said to. But that was the only time I had to do all the other things that needed doing. Cleaning the house, doing laundry and cooking for my husband.
I was never so glad to go back to work. Except that the daycare would call me and tell me he must have colic or something because all he did was cry.
We later discovered that the reason he was so difficult was because he was bored. Even as an infant. In college he was given an IQ test and he tested well above the genius level. That sure explained a lot.
He said his first word at five months. Looked right at me and said, 'Mama.' Took his first steps at eight months and just kept right on going. I was always having to chase after him. By the time he was 18 months old, he was putting three and four words together to form sentences. By the time he was two, his vocabulary had close to 100 words in it.
Things just got harder from there. He couldn't get along with the other kids. I wasn't sure why, at the time. All his teachers said the same thing. It was like he was looking down his nose at them. After his IQ test, I knew that to be true. He thought he was better than his classmates, because he was. He was so much smarter than any of us knew.
When Tim was five, I had my first miscarriage. It was very hard on me and I'm afraid I took it out on him. Made him feel it was his fault, when in reality it was no one's fault.
Then when Tim was seven I got pregnant again and this time went on complete bed rest, getting up only to use the bathroom. I went into labor at 32 weeks. Dr. Markham couldn't stop it.
Three days later my daughter, Miracle Lee Speedle, was laid to rest in the family plot at the local cemetery.
I was devastated.
Poor Tim. He wasn't sure how to behave. All he really knew was that I had been in the hospital and was supposed to bring home a baby but didn't.
He started withdrawing into himself that year. I later found out that that was when he first hurt himself.
It was little things that he could easily explain away as just something boys do. Like a black eye from picking a fight with the school bully. Or skinning his knee from falling out of a tree.
At the time I believed his reason for them. The bully wouldn't leave this girl alone so he tried to stop it. Got punched for his effort. Was climbing a tree to see a bird's nest and lost his footing on the way down.
The real reason, he later told me, was that he felt partially responsible for Miracle's death, and therefore, he was trying to relieve that guilt by hurting himself.
The fight with the bully was pretty much the way he said it happened, according to the principle. But him falling out of the tree never happened. He jumped out of the tree hoping to break a leg or an arm.
I hadn't cried that hard since we buried Miracle.
There were four more miscarriages between Miracle and Matthew. And with each one, Tim withdrew more and more.
I didn't see it because I didn't want to. I was blaming him when there was no one to blame, only I didn't see it that way at the time.
I really thought that if he had been just a little bit easier to deal with, then I wouldn't have had such a hard time carrying to term, not really realizing that I was one of those women that was always going to have a difficult time carrying a baby. Or not wanting to realize it.
When Tim was 13, I gave birth to Matthew. This pregnancy was text book perfect. No morning sickness, no spotting, no premature labor.
At 42 weeks, Dr. Markham had to induce me. After 24 hours of labor including less than an hour of pushing, Matthew Michael Speedle made his appearance at nine pounds fourteen ounces. A full two pounds more than Tim.
Matthew was the perfect baby. He only cried when something was wrong. Nothing bothered him and I'm afraid Peter and I doted on him because of this.
Again, Tim was left out.
Tim had no real friends until high school. Up until then the only kids to really pay him any attention were the ones who wanted to pick his brain. He caught on to this very quickly and wouldn't let them get past his walls.
Oh, he gave them what they asked of him. Just made sure they got caught trying to cheat without being able to trace it back to him.
I should have seen how smart he was, but I was busy with my job as a social worker and with Matthew.
When Matthew was six it was discovered that he had dyslexia. This meant that he needed more of mine and Peter's attention, forcing us to give less to Tim.
I know he felt unloved and unwanted, but I didn't really have the energy needed to make him feel otherwise.
His freshman year of high school, Tim met Travis. Travis was the boy that everyone liked, boys and girls alike.
He was captain of the football team, dated the head cheerleader and got straight A's.
Tim once told me he tried to hate Travis, but there was just something about him that made you like him.
They ended up being co-captains of the science team. They won first place all four years. I was so very proud. I did what I could to let Tim know this, but I'm afraid that after 14 years of neglect, he either didn't see it or didn't care.
Senior year, Tim seemed to come out of his shell a bit. Travis was dragging him to all these parties and introducing him to new people. Tim even had a girlfriend that year.
Peter was proud of that.
Then Spring Break of that year, the seniors went to Vermont on a ski trip. I didn't want Tim to go. I had a really bad feeling about it, but he was so excited to be going, I didn't have the heart to refuse him.
They had only been gone two days when the phone rang.
I prayed that Tim wasn't hurt. Then felt guilty because someone was going to be getting a call saying their child was injured.
I never expected the voice on the other end to tell me what it did.
Tim and Travis were involved in an accident. Tim was mostly unhurt. Just some cuts and bruises. But Travis was never going to walk again.
I didn't want to think that Tim was trying to hurt himself, but that's how it looked. He swore that he wasn't the one driving. That Travis had swerved to miss a deer in the road, but I still had a hard time believing it.
Tim's accidents increased soon after. I even started noticing tiny cuts on his arms and legs. He said they were nothing, had always been there, but I knew better. I just didn't know how to reach my son. Didn't know how to help him through his guilt.
After graduation, Tim went to Columbia to study microbiology. He was looking for a cure for Travis.
Two years into his undergrad studies, Travis went in for routine surgery and never came out.
Tim broke down completely. He vanished from New York only to turn up a year later in Miami.
He said he was fine, but was going to stay down there for a while. He had landed on Travis' uncle's doorstep and he had taken him in.
Three months later he called and said he was returning to Columbia to finish his undergrad and then would be returning to Miami. He'd met a woman named Megan Donnor who had promised him a job as a CSI once he had his degree.
He received his bachelor's in one year, with honors. I was never so proud. I even told him so. And this time he heard me. That was the first step on the road to our becoming more of a family.
The night he got his diploma, we talked for hours. That's when I found out about him hurting himself. He said that Kevin, Travis' uncle, had caught him doing it and took him to a shrink. He admitted it felt good to finally be able to tell someone about it. To talk about everything. Even his guilt over Miracle.
It had taken me most of the last two years to realize that Tim was still feeling guilty about my miscarriages and Miracle's death. That night I decided to let him know that none of it was his fault. It took most of the night, but I did manage to convince him that there was nothing that could have been done any differently.
By the time the sun rose the next morning I felt we were well on our way to becoming friends. I asked for and received his forgiveness for the way I treated him while he was growing up.
The next few years were wonderful. We talked every day. Sometimes more than once.
Then came the day he called and bitched about his new boss, Horatio Caine.
Said the man was a hardass. Rode the team real hard. I tried to remind him that not everyone was going to be as easy on him as Megan. He didn't want to hear it.
A month or two later, he called and began telling me about some heroic thing Horatio had done. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing about the complete 180 in his opinion of the man.
Six months later I got a call telling me he'd been shot while transporting seized drugs to be disposed of. He only had a bruised rib, thank God, but I thought I was going to have a heart attack until I was able to talk to him, hear for myself that he was fine.
He blamed himself for the officer who died. Not sure why. Nothing I said could convince him it wasn't his fault.
Not even Horatio could get him to see that it wasn't his fault.
I began to worry even more after that day. If he could be shot at in front of other cops, what might happen when he was at a crime scene alone?
Then the day I had been dreading for close to 10 years: he and Horatio were investigating a kidnapping and it led them to a jewelry store.
There was a gun fight and Tim was shot. He died on the floor of that shop, in Horatio's arms.
I had to be sedated.
Another one of my babies was dead.
A mother should never have to bury her child, much less two of them.
I'm brought back to the present by Peter squeezing my fingers. I open my eyes to find the chief of police standing in front of me, holding the folded flag that had been draped over Tim's coffin.
I reach out and take it from him and when he pulls his hand back, I see Tim's badge pined to the top.
I can't hold back the tears any more. I collapse against Peter's shoulder, my whole body shaking with the force of my sobs.
Peter helps me to my feet and I stagger towards the coffin that holds my oldest child's earthly remains.
It's the first time I've been able to approach it. The fact that it's closed may have something to do with that.
I reach out with a hand that shakes and touch where his head is, then I lean over and kiss it. Telling him I love him and will never forget him.
I look up when I feel Peter's hand on my back and see Horatio Caine standing on the other side of the coffin from me, his hands in his pants pockets and a pair of expensive sunglasses perched firmly on his nose.
"You bastard!" I scream at him. "How dare you stand there when my son is lying in a coffin?" I continue to screech as I throw the flag towards Peter, not even caring if he catches it or not, before stalking around the end of Tim's casket to approach where Horatio is standing.
"You should be the one in that casket," I shout while pounding my fists against his chest. "You, not my son!"
"Patricia!" someone calls my name, but I'm too lost in my grief to care or stop.
"Why didn't you protect him? Make sure he was cleaning his gun?" I demand as I hit him as hard as I can. "It was your job to make sure he was doing his. So why aren't you the one who's dead?"
I don't even notice that Horatio is just standing there letting me work out all my anger and grief on his chest. Not until I feel strong hands close around my wrists and pull me back against a firm chest.
"Patty, love. That's enough," Peter whispers in my ear.
I collapse in his arms, my grief having exhausted me. Peter lowers me to the grass, tightening his hold.
"I am so sorry I let your son down, Mrs. Speedle. I don't know what to say or do to express the depth of my sorrow at losing such a great CSI and friend," Horatio says as he kneels down next to where I'm sitting on the ground, panting from my efforts to hurt him at least a little bit like I'm hurting.
I look up and see that he's removed his sunglasses. I can see for the first time how hard this is on him. His eyes are red rimmed and there are tear tracks on his cheeks.
I draw in a deep breath as I realize that Tim was more than a subordinate to this man. I wonder if Tim knew that.
"You love my son," I whisper, making it a statement, not a question.
"Yes I do," he answers me anyway.
He gives me a tiny smile and replies, "No apologies necessary, Mrs. Speedle. I feel honored to have known him for as long as I did." And with that he gets up, puts his sunglasses back on his nose and walks away, leaving me to wonder just how well he knew my son.