Visiting a Father's Grave

The best way to visit your father's grave for the second time, a year and a half since you first stood there--that first and only time--bundled against the bitter wind, throat tight, tears freezing as they fell, your eyes fixed on the mound of freshly hilled earth in a heap near the box that held his used-up form,

is here and now,

on your birthday, on a midmorning when spring moves sweet and soft, out walking with your husband and children and with the sun and great big blue above.

To without warning or knowledge follow their feet down the first hill and the second and to turn right onto the rutted path that leads through what has been cow pasture and cornfield and is this day just a stretch of dry brown newly greening.

With breath caught sharp in surprise at the turn, tears splashing warm as you walk behind, you'll watch winter-white limbs flashing over grass on the path to your father's grave, where you'll stand with them above what he no longer needs.

Best, too, to visit with a memory of a dark-eyed boy fresh from the sea, who stood below you in the night and snow throwing rocks at your window. Remember the sight of his head from above, the surprise of it all, the first introduction to the family, and, then, the escape to talk.   Remember a winter walk down the hill and a right turn onto that rutted path leading through a cornfield to a graveyard.

Hold the memory of the snow, the stars, the piercing chill, and his love, of a pocketwatch lost by a headstone and of its later rescue. The memory of a dark-eyed boy who now stands beside you as a dark-eyed man watching children spin in the sun.  And you, with a baby soon-born nudging your bones, a wordless reminder of Life over death.


Deborah Johnson said...

I have so much to say that I don't really have anything to say. Thank you for sharing this.

Emily Wilwerding said...

This is precious. I lost my Dad 4 years ago, and have only just recently wanted to visit his grave. Grief and healing are strange things...so thankful for the promise of eternal life!

Abigail said...