I sat at your grave today. I didn’t cry. I do remember standing here years ago, in a downpour. A downpour like I had never experienced before, or since. I cried then. I sobbed then. Uncontrollably. I was wearing your green-plaid, wool, coat. I didn’t care that I was soaked through.
Today I just sat here, no tears. I was thinking. About you. About us. And smiling.
The United States flag was snapping smartly in the sharp wind. As was the flag at your father’s grave, two graves down.
I know you’re not here. The only time you were ever here was when you brought us here as children to see the graves of people we had never met but who belonged to us, or us to them. So this place is very familiar because you brought us here often. I don’t believe I’ll ever find you here, I know to not even look for you. But I can see your name here. In stone. And below your name we are all listed as well. There’s comfort in that.
I don’t come here often but on occasion I will stop. I’ll look at your name and the names of three generations or so before you. Today as I sat there looking at the names I thought about mourning. There’s something exquisite about grief and mourning that I have yet to put into words. Grief, like love, like life itself, like everything that breathes-changes. When you first died I had never experienced anything like it. That feeling of being sucker punched in the chest and not being able to catch my breath. That bruised feeling that stayed center of my existence for so long. I remember that feeling and very consciously put my hand to my chest as an echo of memory flashed through my body.
I still mourn your passing today. But differently.
You aren’t here now but that doesn’t change anything about when you were here. It doesn’t take away the things you said to us. I can still hear you asking if all girls are squirrelly or are all squirrelly people girls? There are only eight people in existence, out of billions of people, who know and understand the depth of you saying “can it” when we were being too loud. The humor you shared, the music you loved, the moments of silence when you were experiencing your own grief or depressed times. Your death did not diminish these things, it did not erase these things, it did not take away what you lived.
Mourning is a way to actively love you. But I’ve redefined how I mourn. I mourn not by crying, but laughing. Not by regretting what wasn’t or can’t be but by appreciating what was and that I will always have that.
I sat at your grave today and it was a pleasant respite. To give in to memories that made me laugh. Memories that brought childhood clearly into focus for a few minutes. To have time with memories of you and escape for just a short time from the times of now, of adulthood without you. To celebrate you.
To mourn you with joy.