I visited the cemetery today. With all that is going on in the world, I had an overwhelming need to slip away. Feeling as if things were pulling at me every which way I turned, I knew that no one would pull at me here; the cemetery. So, I slipped away.
First, I stopped to get a delicious treat, as my sister and I used to always go to lunch together during the week. This would be different, though. It has been different for close to 14 years now. With peanut butter fudge milkshake in hand, I seemed to have tunnel vision all the way to the cemetery.
My gold Tahoe approached the gravel entrance to the cemetery where the American Flag and our State Flags were flapping in the hot breeze that swept across the green grass and headstones. I came to a complete stop next to an old tree that looks like there isn’t much life left in it. With no leaves and the branches bare, it just stands there on the corner not even providing a little bit of shade on this hot day.
Sitting in my car for a moment longer soaking up the air conditioning, I drew in a deep breath and made myself get out of the comfort of my Tahoe. Reaching into the backseat, I claimed the beautiful cross I purchased just yesterday at Michael’s that had such beautiful flowers on the front of the cross. When I saw it, I knew I had to have it. And so, with cross in hand, I make my way down the concrete walkway that would take me to my sister’s graveside.
Sighing heavily, it seemed to take forever to reach her grave. Then there I stood, looking down at the marker with her name on it. It’s hard to believe that this is our reality. It has almost been 14 years now, and yet, I remember every single detail just like it was yesterday. I remember the shock and terror that rushed through my veins that morning as I feared the worst and learned that it was true. My worst nightmare had become reality as my sister had taken her life. Postpartum depression claimed another victim. My heart and soul, to the core of my being, still mourns the great loss of my sister, my one and only sibling.
What made me go today, of all days? In this 101 degree heat with high Southern humidity? The overwhelming need, feeling as if I was literally drawn to their gravesides. Those of my sister, my great grandparents, as well as my grandparents.
With all of the talk of the deaths lately, with nine people being gunned down in our state a little over a week ago … and with coverage of the mourners … as well as my daughter’s boyfriend still fresh in his grief having lost his grandfather four months ago today … I had to be closer to pay my respects.
The cemetery is not a place I frequent. I haven’t been out there in a while, and I’m sure my parents and other family members have shaken their head and felt disappointment in me for not going more often. I Just can’t. Some people find great comfort there. It is their loved ones resting place. They gain some form of comfort by “visiting” with them there. For me, though, I prefer to just speak to my loved ones no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I don’t have to visit their grave to do that. Actually, I feel that I have signs of them visiting me at my home from time to time as little dragon flies, butterflies, and Cardinals appear seemingly right when I need a reminder that they are there and that love remains even if they are no longer physically here on this earth. Sure, others could argue over these “signs” or “visits” from my loved ones, but I have my own beliefs and will not be swayed.
I’m reminded that there is a time for everything (see Ecclesiastes 3).
Today was my time to visit, to allow myself to mourn a little, to feel these feelings and cry if I needed to let it out.
Yesterday my niece turned 14 years old. My niece. The one that we haven’t been allowed much contact with since my sister’s passing on that hot July day. Our time to laugh and celebrate on June 25th, when my niece was born, soon turned to a time to mourn and cry just two weeks later on July 9th when my sister took her own life due to the overwhelming emotional pain she felt due to postpartum depression. And yet, we had no idea how bad it truly was.
I am sad today for what I’ve witnessed on Facebook from my 14 year old niece. As much as I wish, want, and would have preferred things to be different, I had no say in this. It was out of my hands and has been this entire time. My sister would not have stood for her daughter to have grown up the way she has, and yet, she was not here to see to it that she grew up any differently. I am sad for how this 14 year old has been motherless all of these years and how we were really not allowed to be a part of her life for the majority of her 14 years. She went to live with her other grandparents, and my former brother-in-law pretty much has not been a father to her all of these years either (she said this once to my parents about him). He pulled away, and he once blamed her for his wife’s death saying that had his daughter not been born, his wife would still be here. NO … it was wrong to blame the innocent child that did not ask to be born. It is extremely sad what has happened, but we can’t blame her. She was innocent in this all, and yet, he withdrew pretty much from her all the while not allowing our side of the family to be with her much at all. Visits here and there were briefly allowed before he took her right back from us. I stopped counting after four times of him snatching this baby from me. Yes, I was allowed to have her briefly when she was a baby, then she was taken from me again until she was a toddler. Then I was allowed a little time only for her to be taken back from us once more. As she grew into a child, I had brief encounters with her, but her behavior was so extreme, violent, and just out of control that we could not get her on a regular basis even if they would have allowed it at that point.
Today I allowed the feelings.
Tomorrow I will be better.
There is a time for everything.