Over the weekend I did something I had not done in such a shamefully long time. I visited you and grandfather at your place of rest.
Honestly I can’t even begin to recall the last time I ventured down that road. I can say with certainty that this was the first time I sojourned for the year 2014. And it’s already towards the end of the second month, right near your own birth date at that. I feel terrible for not traveling down this way because I really miss the serenity that this marble jungle provided me with. But you both know my reasons for being such a bad niece and granddaughter stem to economical ones. Frequenting down these parts swallows an extensive amount of gas from my vehicle; gas which I no longer am at liberty too throw away anymore.
I made my promise to grandfather right after he passed away. Right when it dawned on me that I was a pathetic excuse of a human being. Having not visited him for months while he was in that nursing home. Made even worse when we was moved into hospital. That was still not enough to break me from my narcissism. I was young, foolish and above all else utterly selfish. Enjoying my youth and new-found sense of freedom I choose late nights and coffee dates over seeing someone who’d end up making such a dramatic impact on my life.
I told my mother I would go to see grandfather on Father’s Day but the Angel of Death swiftly took you from this world the day prior. A day when I choose to go out car hunting with my father rather than pop into your hospital room for a few moments. And I still recall that phone call, the way my cell blasted those Latin inspired chimes from its speaker could only mean one thing. It was what my father had feared most. We both knew what that phone call would bring before he even placed the receiver to his ear. I’ve only ever seen my father cry two or three times in my entire twenty something time on this planet and that day was one of them. He weeped for the loss of such an inspiring and well-loved man but more so for the fact that he wasn’t there for my mother, that he was stuck in the city traffic with me and all because I had insisted, insisted upon taking a look at a Holden Astra I found for sale.
And when we walked into your hospital room I thought I’d find you at peace yet the twist of your jaw proved otherwise. I ran out as fast as we came in and sat outside alone for a good hour or two praying, just praying for his forgiveness. Guilt had overtaken all emotion at that point. He’d been so alone and I was painfully aware of that and yet I choose to ignore that, to bury it deep somewhere else.
And thus my promise was born.
A promise that I would visit his final place of rest at least once a week to keep him company, as I should have done all along and bring with me some fresh blooms to brighten the heinous mounds of upturned golden hued dirt that enveloped his sleeping body.
I kept my promise for years, making it my Saturday morning ritual. Waking up early just to come and say hello to someone I never truly knew; someone I should have understood like the back of my hand. I’d bring with me a candle and some flowers and talk to you there at the foot of your grave. Talk about life and boys, work and it’s suffocating grip around my naked neck. But mostly about how unhappy I was and how desperate I was to attain it.
I felt him there, listening patiently, embracing when needed. I always found such inner peace whenever I came here.
Over time I discovered how grandfather enjoyed those scented candles I happened onto by mistake. And despite their smoke slowly decaying and blackening the lantern I continued to bring them because I knew their sweet scent made him smile.
Then Maria you joined him almost four years ago now and I found myself as lost as ever. Waking from a blinding daze you both helped me to my feet. I began visiting two, three sometimes even five times a week seeking guidance and solitude and I always found it here. I always found comfort in those parts, always surrounded by a greater unknown love. It was great while it lasted but alas the well dried and visiting became another luxury I could no longer afford, choosing instead to travel when my parents came to visit you. And they faithfully ventured down weekly but overtime they changed their schedule to one that wouldn’t accommodate myself.
And thus I no longer had my trusty ride to the cemetery.
Luckily last Saturday mother decided to go and asked if I would accompany her, of course I jumped at the chance. The ride was familiar and soothing, like it always was. A short time for reflection and wonder at the skies above me as I sailed past down that familiar road. Entering those grounds, gaping in awe at the lush circus of trees and rose bushes it felt like only yesterday but I knew better. Then reaching your plot felt like a warm, soothing hug. Surprisingly you both were not mad, mad that I’d been gone for so long. You understood, you both always understood.
I truly miss coming here, having the freedom to traipse those grey grounds and ponder life’s lessons with you both. I hope to find a way back here again and again. To bring with me those citrus smelling candles and carnations aglow in pinks and purples. To keep my promise once again but this time to never break it.