Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ten years.


on the tenth anniversary, we drove to the grave site for the first time in ten years. i didn't remember any of it, except that the drive seemed longer the first time. we found the small paved road that led into the graveyard and parked next to the massive mausoleum that i also didn't remember. maybe it wasn't there ten years ago. we put on our coats and gathered up the white and pink-tipped roses i had picked out. then my brother and i fanned out, he going to the northeast and i to the south, searching for the stone; neither of us remembering exactly where it had been. we searched for what felt like half an hour. i carried the flowers and watched my boots treading over grass and soft earth, forgetting from time to time that i needed to actually read each stone i passed, forgetting i was looking for something, thinking maybe that my feet would somehow lead me there. and as the light started to fail, we met back up in the middle and started to search again, this time together, me walking somewhat angrily, thinking about the irony of what if we couldn't find it and what would i do then with these beautiful flowers for which i had told the florist i didn't need plant food.

and then as i was stomping around, looking more determinedly this time, i heard my brother call my name softly. "it's here," he said, looking down. he stood near a bank of not very tall cypress trees, and something in me recognized that that is where i had known it was all along. i walked towards him as he knelt down and began to clear the small stone of the grass and weeds which were growing over its edges. i had wondered if ten years was long enough to cover the stone entirely. i wasn't prepared for how i would feel to see it neglected, as if we didn't care, as if we hadn't been there in spirit, daily.

i knelt down, barely seeing what i was looking at, placing the flowers next to it. and then i stood and after a minute my brother said, "You didn't touch it. You should touch it." and i laughed through swimming eyes because it was so much a thing he would say, a thing i might under other circumstances be irritated by, and i did and didn't understand what he meant and why i didn't want to. my husband has often said that i remind him of a bird and maybe he is right because i do so much better seeing things from the side. but i obliged.

the marble was smooth, the lettering chiseled deep and sharp and less legible in some places where dirt had gotten in. i read the verse—all there was except a name and date—which i hadn't even known was there. then i learned my brother had chosen it, and i marveled not for the first time at the man he has become. and at the simplicity and perfection of the verse he chose, so much better and truer than any other words would have been.

we squatted there as night fell and spoke of things we never have before. i told him how happy she would have been about his wife and son. we talked of who spoke a few days later at the funeral. most i didn't remember. i held his hand. and in those moments, the night was strangely peaceful and beautiful, and i lost some of my fear of graveyards. and then a small owl, nearly silent, nearly invisible, landed on the ground a few feet away for but a moment before flying away again and i felt as if we'd been visited, briefly, by some kind of magic. by God. by peace.

and then it was dark and time to go.

"as made sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; 
as having nothing and yet possessing all things." 
— 2 Corinthians 6:10


1 comment:

  1. I don't have the right words, and I fear saying the wrong ones--as if this post were itself a sacred ground and I might be trampling improperly. But I love this, and you, and the owl that the Lord sent--and the Lord for sending the owl, too, now that I think about it--and the choice of verse, so, so much. ♥