First Mother’s Day: check. I handled it by running away for the day.
First Memorial Day: check. I handled it with routine.
We made our yearly pilgrimage to the cemetery today. I’ve always wondered if Memorial Day is recognized the same in the big city as it is in the small town. My guess is, yes. A city, after all, is made up of blocks. A zip code may be in Metropolis but life is lived in the neighborhood.
In a small town, people start gathering at the cemetery in the morning. Since I have fallen in with morning people, we were the first to arrive. Mini-reunions are held as fellow grievers arrive armed with cleaning supplies, flowers, and memories. When the weather permits, we can linger and chat. Today was not one of those days. The wind made it bitter cold. It was all we could do to shine the stones and tether the flowers.
In addition to the normal gravesites, we now have an extra one to visit. Mom’s favorite thing was having her family surround her. She still has that power to bring us together as we gathered around her tombstone. Dad worked hard to make her stone shine. His name is already on it. I asked him if it made him nervous to shine his own name. He just laughed. Much to dad’s disgust, mom’s death year has not been added on the stone, yet. I say, if there’s no end date maybe that means she’s still here. That’s okay with me.
We visited the other cemetery to place flowers on the graves of mom’s grandmas. Even though one died before I was born and the other died when I was too young to remember. Mom loved her grandmas and she always placed flowers on their graves. They were important women in her life and helped shaped who she was. So, we took flowers and placed them on their graves, too. Perhaps someday we won’t. For now though, we will.
This afternoon we had a family BBQ. Well, a Wyoming BBQ. We cooked the burgers inside where it was warm. The burgers were good. The conversation was enjoyable. We laughed and had a good time. For me though, I kept thinking of our Memorial Day a year ago. Mom just found out the CLL cells had come back and started treatments again. She was sick but she came home for the weekend for Bubba’s graduation. I had no idea she’d leave us in six months. Last Memorial Day was the start of a very hard and trying summer. But I’d do it again if I could spend a little more time with mom.
So, I survived my first Mother’s Day and Memorial Day without my mother. Whose bright idea was it to put those two commemoration days in the same month? Not cool. Do the days get any easier? Or has May become a bitter month?
As I tell Lyn, take a deep breath and remember, you got this. I got this. I know I do. Another deep breath.