This past weekend I found myself stopping by the cemetery where Kevin is buried. These days I rarely visit. It’s usually only when I have some down time and I’m in the area. I know other widow(er)s who visit weekly, some even daily, to feel closer to their lost love. Not me. I have never visited multiple times in a week. It’s because I feel he’s not there.
I noticed the grass behind the headstone had grown in. There was barely a line where it had been dug out nearly 3 years ago. The Canadian Flag flying next to the stone had become faded. I lay some fresh wild flowers picked from my mother’s garden on the stone. I talked to his stone like I talked to him. He feels like a stranger in this place. Last time I visited there was a wide open field by the cemetery. Saturday there was 6′ high corn. Time had kept moving.
As I walked the paved path back to my car, I looked over the other headstones. I had done this before, but mostly looked for names of people I knew. This time I sought out dates. Soon I found what had been a 27 year old woman named Nadine. Her parents’ headstone was next to hers. Mother still living. Father died 2 years after daughter. I thought of the Mother and how distraught she must have been to lose two people so close in time. Much like my own mother-in law who lost a husband and son in a matter of years.
I passed brothers’ headstones, both having died before their 25th birthday. The years indicated they had probably died in Vietnam. Again, I thought to the parents and any other siblings they may have had. Too many young deaths in this cemetery.
I forget sometimes that Kevin was not the only young death. He was 36. I have met so many other men and women who lost their spouse before beginning their lives together, some before saying their vowels of commitment. They never had the chance.
Sometimes I get so consumed in the “woe is me” attitude that I forget that I am far from being the only one to have a tragic story, to have experienced a young loss. When I read those dates on the stones Saturday night, I shared in their pain.
This coming weekend, when I attend Camp Widow in San Diego I will be meeting others with many similar stories, many different stories, but all with a huge loss. I know I’ll look in their eyes, see the expressions on their face, and have an immediate relativity to what we have each experienced.
To share loss together is a big step and commitment to healing. In sharing together, we lift one another up in our journey through grief. I look forward to carrying their burdens as they have carried mine.