Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
I went to visit Paul’s grave site at the weekend and realised that it might be the last time I’m able to sit there and talk to him until the spring because of all the snow. I took a small chair with me, and trekked through the snow, then sat there in the cold talking to him.
On my last visit back in October, I removed the ceramic vases so that they didn’t crack with the first freeze and took two small potted mums up instead—and a small pumpkin for Halloween. It took a lot of force to remove the frozen plastic containers from the flower box, which was full of ice and snow. I replaced them with one large white mum and a small card with a note in it for his birthday. I don’t know why, but I felt the need to leave something there for him. I had a giggle to myself as I poured a measure of Bourbon out for him—which turned the snow yellow. Surely, Paul was laughing, too.
As I sat there talking to him, and writing to him in my journal, I realised that the next time I sit at my husband’s grave will be in England when I travel there next week. It will be the first time I’ve seen his grave marker since it was placed, and I’m so very sad at the thought of seeing his name etched in stone. It will be hard to see his age etched in stone, knowing that this year, he will not be turning a year older. Despite the fact we always joked that no matter how old I got he’d always be older than me, one day I will be 48 years old. And Paul will still only be 47…
It’s funny; I know that Paul isn’t at the grave yard. I know that it’s just a place where his Earthly remains are buried and that his soul is in the presence of God, but I find comfort in visiting him there anyhow. It’s a place where I can focus on him, where I can talk to him, where I can grieve for him. Likewise, I can talk to his photos, but I find it difficult to talk to him whilst I’m driving down the road. I need that physical “something” to focus on.
As I think about what I want in the future, I find myself very happy that I decided to have a burial in both countries. At the time, my reasoning was to bring comfort to his family—comfort to his siblings who will always grieve for their baby brother. Now, it brings comfort to me. Knowing that I can sit at his grave and visit in both places means that I don’t have to consider that when deciding where I want to live long-term. I know that my future will take place in (or near) the Pacific Northwest or in the UK, and with either location I can visit Paul with relative ease. One day, I may not feel the need to sit by his grave and talk or write, but for as long as I do feel that need it’s nice to know that I have that option.
I find it amazing that these little things bring me so much comfort. Little rituals make me feel better; make me feel like I’m doing something. Like cleaning the ground around his grave while I tell him what’s going on with life at that moment; writing to him in my journal; describing the flowers I’ve brought him; pouring out a measure of Bourbon for him; and even laying there crying.
As morbid as it sounds, one of the things I am looking forward to on my holidays is spending some time alone at the cemetery talking to Paul. Sadly, the days I am able to visit are Thanksgiving or his birthday. For some reason, it doesn’t seem right to visit my husband’s grave on the day when I should be reflecting on all that I’m thankful for, or on the day that he won’t be turning 48.