Where you lay sleeping…

I’ve been so busy that I have not had a chance to write but I wanted to put down into words what I felt when I went to visit my father’s grave.  I hadn’t been there since he was buried partly because I live 2 hours away but mostly because I was scared that seeing a mound of dirt where beneath lay my father’s shell, would simply — break me.  My first visit was with my children and my mom.  As my mom and I tried to push a vase full of flowers into the dirt so it wouldn’t fall over, my children ran and jumped carefully around the gravestones as to not step on anyone that lay sleeping.  Their sheer ignorance of the circumstances that surround death made me wish I were a child again when life seemed only about the moments you could touch with your hands and not the ones that had long faded into the background.  My childhood has come and gone and so the moments, whether in the forefront of my mind or buried somewhere under the rubble, wrap around me like a heavy blanket.  After we finished securing the vase we left and I couldn’t help feeling disappointed that something more powerful than the headache I’d acquired from the heat, hadn’t come over me.

I felt robbed that day  I first visited my father’s grave and so I went back, alone.  As I walked towards my dad’s grave the sadness that I’d avoided the first time around now sat squarely upon my shoulders and was almost so  heavy that I found it hard to move forward.  I sat cross-legged in front of the grave staring down at the plastic flowers which acted as the only marker to the place where my father lay.  I closed my eyes, the silence enveloped me and as I scanned the names of those who laid quietly beneath the hollow ground I couldn’t help wonder how many tears had been shed for them.  My own tears stung my eyes and as I knelt down to say an Ava for my father I realized that this still was so unreal to me.  His death lingered in the air like the conclusion in a bad novel where alternate endings swirl inside your head.  I thought seeing the place where they buried him would jolt me into reality and force me to accept that he is gone and he is never coming back.  But it didn’t.  I felt comfort in the silence but only because when the outside noise subsided I could finally hear the beating of my own heart and it reminded me that I am still living.  As I drove away from the cemetary I saw the distant shadow of my father’s resting place and whatever I came there for was now in the past.

I remember my dad telling me once that he hoped people didn’t linger over his grave with thoughts of regret over what could have been.  I try to remember that and take comfort in knowing that when it came to my relationship with my dad, I have no regrets.  I loved him with all my heart and in his last days on this earth it was I  who was at his side, stroking his hair, holding his hand, and giving him all I had to give so he could take it with him on his long journey.  When I was a kid my dad used to tuck little hand drawn maps  into my  lunch box of the secret rock we discovered; the place that belonged to him and I and nobody else.  I hope that when my dad stops to rest he finds the note I tucked inside his jacket with a map that reminds him how to get back to the place that belonged only to us.

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