This weekend I went out and cleaned up my family's graves.
It might sound odd that I had never seen many of their graves, but I have had a difficult time with their passing, especially of my father in 2003 and my grandmother (my father's mother) in 2008. In both cases as well as for some of my grandparents on my mother's side, I have only two weeks ago gathered up the courage and strength to go to the cemetery and find them, but I am terribly glad that I did. I have found a new piece of the healing process has yet to finish and it is very bittersweet.
As I said, two weeks ago I found their graves and after finding them, I decided I had to come back and begin taking care of them. My father's has sadly begun to sink into hill of the ground a bit deeply. But my mind is at rest knowing where their graves are now. My absence at the cemetery between their deaths and now is due in large part to resisting the idea that they are no longer here. Especially my grandma. It still hurts to think that I will never be able to call my grandma up, particularly around this time of year, and ask her all kinda of questions about baking. It still hurts to think of the soured relationship I had with my father that was turning around, thanks to my grandma, that I will never get to finish seeing mended. It still hurts to think that my grandma wasn't able to be there for my wedding and won't be there to spoil and teach my future child to paint and craft the way we did when I was little.
But that pain is...easing, surprisingly. It's difficult and I doubt that I will ever be able to think of the great times I had with my grandma or the way my father glanced at me when we hadn't seen or spoken to each other in years and not shed tears. I won't be able to move on from those thoughts, but at least I am able to anchor them. I have a place that I can go to when I want to let them know from whatever heaven or homeland they are looking down from now, that I am thinking about them and I still care. I still love them. And I miss them terribly.
So in the soggy mud, I went to the cemetery and cleaned their graves. Digging away encroaching earth, grass, and vines to fully reveal their gravestones once more. You can see the eagle on my father's grave again. You can see the entirety of my grandma's name and dates.
I finished by placing my little white pumpkins on their graves. A little present and promise that I will visit more often. That I'm sorry it took this long.