It’s been a year since I buried my parents. That doesn’t seem possible at all. I feel like it was just the other day, and yet it also feels so far away.
The pain is still fairly fresh. I was still so sick after having spent a week in the hospital prior to Mom dying. I was better, but still far from well, and my independent soul was crushed by relying on others to drive me and do things for me.
[I just realized that as I am writing this, I am wearing the exact same shirt I wore that day. I have not worn that skirt since, though.]
We were all on edge and almost cranky. The burial was to be private, just family, and only a couple of super close friends who were like family. We were doing an informal gathering later at Panera.
I didn’t know how I was feeling that morning. My head was swimming with the loss of Mom. I got into the car with my aunt. We drove the five minutes to the cemetery and pulled up to the family plot. I had been there a dozen times to leave flowers for my grandparents, and sort of for Dad (because his stone was there, but his ashes were not yet). As soon as I saw the identical boxes on the stone, I broke.
I have never gotten over my father’s death in 2011. I was very fortunate in that he was truly one of my best friends. We spoke on the phone almost daily. And when Mom wasn’t in an Alzheimer’s fog, she would also hop on the phone. We may have been 400 miles apart, but were even closer than when I lived less than two miles away.
Dad slipped into his coma soon after Mom went into the nursing home, and it was too difficult to call often. Though I could still go back and visit and actually touch my mother, I still lost them both at the same time.
Neither one had to suffer watching the other fully deteriorate on this earthly plane. Instead, that burden was left for us children.
I always felt like the two of them were still connected in spite of space and time. When Mom passed, we kept saying that at least they were together again. But then to see those boxes… ashes and fragments … side by side … to be truly laid to rest for eternity together.
My breath caught in my throat and the tears started and I borderline sobbed the whole time. As I write this right now, it is hard to see because of the torrential downpour on my face.
I remember being at a total loss for words. I remember my sister crying while she spoke. I remember learning all kinds of new things about my mom as people shared stories. I remember almost shaking when it was time to lay the flowers for Mom … for Dad … for my grandparents on the next grave over.
And then that task of shoveling the first clumps of dirt over both of my parents in the ground, every thud hammering home the reminder that this was it. I was a 41-year-old orphan.
We stayed until the burial was complete. I don’t know that either of us wanted to acknowledge that finality. Plus we both wanted to make sure it looked okay.
And then we scooped up the remaining loose flowers and drove the two minutes to the other cemetery, where my mother’s parents are buried. In the midst of all the planning, we didn’t realize that we were doing this on my mom’s mom’s birthday. So we really needed to go there to acknowledge our other grandparents. It was a lot to take in.
One year …
52 weeks …
365 days …
8760 hours …
525,600 minutes …
31, 536,000 seconds …