Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stormy Weather

Across West Virginia and back again in two days, with storytelling and family visit included. Thunder, lightning and heavy rain seemed like logical companions for this journey.

Getting to Romney, West Virginia from where I live is a feat. Althugh there are several routes, there is really no good way to get there from here. We selected what looked like the best way and headed out, allowing an extra two hours because when you travel on two-lane roads you never know what you might encounter. We were lucky--although the rain was heavy here and there and we saw two roll-overs along the way, the trip was smooth and the scenery...well, you really have to see it to understand.

I was the main event Saturday night for a weekend kids camp sponsored by the local law enforcement agencies. Given the rain, we moved indoors. The stories? Ghost stories, of course, perfect for the rainy, foggy evening in a place that had its own resident ghost.

Afterwards, we headed to Virginia. According to the map, we were only about 60 miles from my son Jon's house. The storytelling event went a little longer than expected; the drive took longer too because of the rain, but we arrived about 11pm and had a good hour-long visit with granddaughters and daughter-in-law before bed.

This morning, our main goal was to visit Jon's grave. I knew it was best to do this on our way home so we had breakfast, visited a little more with granddaughters and then went to the cemetery.

I will say this: no matter how many times I go there it never gets easier. To see those dates--"1970-2010." To see his name--"Jonathan Scott Ford." To see the old, old gaves around him, many of Confederate soldiers from the Civil War. To know my son is inexpicably here among them. None of it is easier. The same questions, the same regrets, the same pain are there each time. And each time, leaving is harder to do.

I wish I could tell you that it gets better and easier to bear, but the truth is that it does not. Grief, I have discovered, is a lonely place and something I must endure alone. No one, no words, can make it easier or smooth the journey. It is what it is--a terrible place framed by the beauty of memories.
I left a pot of vincas to join company with the flags and the almost hidden golf ball that mixed with the new grass covering the bare earth of Jon's grave. Vinca is tough and long-lived and I hope the cemetery caretakers will leave it in place as long as it can manage to survive. My visits to my son's grave cannot be frequent so I have to rely on the kindness of others and the sturdiness of my vincas to keep my son company in this far-off place. Leaving the cemetery is one of the hardest things I have to do in this life. How many times will I make this journey in the years that are left to me? How many times will I have to say good-bye?
The trip home was quiet. Larry knows enough about me to let me be. Now that I am here in my house I can start to sort through the emotions, the sadness and the memories one more time. I know I will find no answers, no magic antedotes. Tomorrow I will get up and go to work, and the daily routine will continue. I wonder why, and yet I know I will do the things that need to be done, just as I pulled weeds in my gardens when I came home tonight.
It is what it is. Life. And death. And the thin line that separates the two sometimes stretches until it is invisible.


Nance said...

Grief is like child birth. Tho others want and need to help and ease the way, there's just not a thing that can be done to ease your burden or to share the load.

I pray for your strength and courage and the faith to carry on, one day at a time.

Susan at Stony River said...

I can't imagine how hard the leaving is for you -- just reading your words was hard to bear, in a sad and beautiful way.

You've reminded me of my grandmother's grave, where my uncle used to go every holiday and special day without fail -- one Easter he planted violets right there in the ground instead of leaving his usual planter of flowers. Soon after that he went into the hospital, and that Easter visit turned out to be his last ever, but because he'd planted the violets they bloomed and spread every season just as though he were still there visiting. Maybe he was.

Susanna I've been wanting to call -- but there's so much to tell that I don't want little ears to hear, and between that and the potty-training and Mr. Thousand-Questions, phone conversations just aren't possible. ARGH! I think I'll give up and email you this week: I'd really love to catch up.

Granny Sue said...

That's a good comparison, Nance. Exactly what it is. It is always good to know others care and will help in any way they can, but in the end, you're on your own. Knowing that actually clarifies things for me.

Susan, I'll look forward to hearing from you :-) We may be up your way so I'll get in touch whenever we're passing through and see if there's a chance to get together.

Anonymous said...

Your post today is very touching. I agree that grief and mourning is a very personal road, that must be traveled alone. Blessings!


Country Whispers said...

Your posts about your son always leave me with tears in my eyes and I never even knew him.
Your words speak clearly the heartache that you go through as you face life without him. I wish there was something that could make your journey smoother and more pleasant but unfortunately there isn't.
It is a lonely road.
All we can do is send hugs your way and be there to listen when you need us to.

Tipper said...

If I had a magic antedote-I'd hand deliver it to you.

Twisted Fencepost said...

I cannot fathom how hard this is for you. And I wish I could bottle some peace to give to you to use as needed. I cannot. But I can continue to pray for peace to come your way when you need it most.

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