Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cemetery rituals

The first few times I visited Alex's grave, I stood in the same spot I stood in for his funeral. It was a routine or a habit that I think was my unconscious attempt to freeze time, to stay in that exact same place so I wouldn't have to face the reality of time passing without his being here with me. I would stare at his flowers or up at the sky, my eyes always avoiding that place where he is actually laid to rest in the ground.

Then one day, I sat down. I sat on Alex's left side, assuming he is buried with his head near his headstone space (there is no headstone in place yet). I talked and cried and screamed all the while looking at his flowers or the trees surrounding that back corner of the cemetery. There are no other graves in the direction I looked, only a handful of graves behind my back. It was like being in a park. I could watch the trees dance in the wind and feel the breeze on my face. But I knew it wasn't "right."

I finally worked up the courage to look down at the spot where his body lays, and I remember thinking how easy it would be to dig him up and take him home with me. Rather sick and twisted, I know. I'm well aware he's not really there...just his body is...but sometimes convincing my heart to agree with my head is a complicated process. So, to stop my urge to take my baby and run, I laid my hands over the top of his grave and felt a sense of connection...a sense of peace. There was finally something tactile for me to hold onto as I talked out loud about all those things I can't tell anyone else for fear they will judge me. In that space, my tears flowed a bit less intensely. I stroked the grass and felt the warmness of the day's sunshine reflected back up to my fingers.

Then one day, I switched sides. I was able to look at Alex's grave in the context of the cemetery as a whole. I no longer needed to fool myself into thinking I was in some beautiful park. I was able to take in the whole scene with the realization that my baby boy is never coming back to me. And in that place, he was surrounded by the final chapters of many other stories. There are babies and young people and old people all laid to rest there. They ALL left behind someone to carry on their story. They all left behind someone who remembered them.

Two days ago, when I went to the cemetery, I stood in that same spot I stood in at Alex's funeral. I remembered the beautiful day we buried him...the blueness of the sky and the strong feeling of Steve supporting me with an arm around my shoulders. I remember the breeze through the trees and the site of the little tiny casket on the green turf-grass rug. I remember the sound of my sobbing mixed with the sounds of the birds singing in the trees, totally oblivious to what was going on in that space. With the remembering came tears...but also a quiet acceptance. I no longer feel the need to rail at the universe for taking my son from me. I no longer want to scream, "why?" into the heavens.

It just is.

There is still an incredible sadness there...and ache in my heart that I don't know how to deal with. But there is something else too. There is a quiet calm that I haven't felt in nine weeks and one day. Maybe I have resigned myself to the sadness for now. But I'm hoping that in that quiet calm there will grow some hope for the future...to replace some of the sadness with happiness again.

3 comments:

lauralu said...

happy for you that you're "moving through it" as my therapist says ad nauseum. and nothing weird about wanting to dig up his body. trust me. happens all the time.

Holley said...

Big Hugs.

Julie said...

Oh God I STILL want to dig Caleb up and run as far and fast as I can. It was one of those thought I had at first that scared me out of my mind. But it's far more common then you would think. I am sorry you have to know this sadness. ((((Cathy))))