I have visited my son’s grave twice now in the last 24 hours. Yesterday Brian, Esther and I decided to drive to Miramar for Memorial Day–it seemed fitting as Cole is buried in the National Cemetery there. And then again today, by myself on my way home from work. I was compelled to stop by mostly to see if the flowers we left graveside were still present, after all I pass by the exit twice daily so stopping by is an easy affair. I can report to you they are, including the floral heart on the grass at the base of his stone, created by his sister from daisy petals she plucked from the bounty.
Yesterday, in honor of Memorial Day, the cemetery was bustling with activity. They held a service at 1:00p.m. and families were gathered a plenty in all parts. This evening, however, I was alone. Alone with the wind and the rows of marble headstones, one of which bears the name and details of my son.
On Sunday I actually did what I had set out to do, according to my last post, which was to “get at it.” I ventured out and met up with a couple of friends whom I had put off for over a year. We had a nice visit and took a small walk together around the Newport Beach back bay. It was a lovely time and I enjoyed it. But upon my drive home, I caught the view off to the east side of the freeway, of the orange balloon of the Great Park in Irvine. And memories of my time with our family of 4 came flooding back. We went together, after Cole’s surgery and when he was well and able enough to manage a slight excursion, to the Great Park and together braved the heights of the hot-air orange balloon. Seeing the ball suspended as is its custom, and feeling the loneliness which instantly was upon me due to the vacancy of the passenger seat to my right, my longing for my son returned anew and my previous resolve to get a move-on in life, away from my grief, flew out the window and more than likely landed-SPLAT-on the large orange sphere.
So today when alone, alongside the marker on the green, I couldn’t help but want this undeniable truth to go away. All of me wants to dig him up and out of his silent grave. Not because I wish him back to a place of continual and constant suffering, but because I miss him. I miss my son. And I’m not ready to let go of that just yet. I still want to live out the fantasy that he will return. Or the preposterous idea that the reality which I face does not, in fact, belong to me.
Do you know that it is more natural for me to drive in the carpool lane than it is not? I had the honor of caring for my son the last two years of his life and as result I was always, “two or more.” I find myself on auto-pilot, engaging my blinker and maneuvering toward the carpool lane entrance until I, at just the last minute, catch myself and pull out.
Yes, I pray daily for strength. And yes, I have a goal to “get at it” for the sake of others and to honor, in my living, my Heavenly Father as well as my son. But for right now I’m just not ready. I am not assimilated to this new reality, more time is required apparently. Now I can tell you that The Bent 3 are ever committed to living life without being ruled by fear. And I can also tell you that this is no easy task. Especially after a difficult loss. For it is common place to want to cling tighter to those around you, fearful of loosing even more of that which you hold dear. But we know too well, if we give fear even an inch, it will take over, and a paralyzed and ineffective life is what remains from its admittance. So we press on, even as fear attempts to coerce our attentions, we press on. And I assure you, I am pressing on. But…
There is no timeline in grief. Yes, I would like it to magically be one year. And yes, the first year is most difficult because every celebration and/or significant date on the calendar reminds of memories past which previously were shared with the loved one lost. And yes, as the second year comes around there are different memories to focus on. But to think and to strive to adhere to the one year rule is not realistic. Not today; though on Sunday a glimpse of progress shone through.
Blue dyed daisy petals, shaped into a heart, lie at the base of a headstone…there is no getting over it.