In the beginning I would visit Aaron’s grave site at least once a week, sometimes more. I would always go alone, I would always cry, I would always cry uncontrollably. Words were at a premium but my tears told the story. If he was listening he got the point.
I only stayed long enough to let him know I was there, that I was hurting and I was mad at him for leaving us so suddenly without warning. It wasn’t fair to me, his mother, his brothers and sisters and his nieces and nephews.
I don’t know if he was still hanging around but I had read that sometimes the spirit of the deceased would stay for a while, sometimes watching the aftermath of their actions or perhaps they even desired to do so before entering the after world.
I had a photo of Aaron put on his headstone so we could always have a face to face on our visits.
He never talked back ,not that I expected it although an explanation would have been good. So many questions left unanswered. But I did make sure at least one question was asked on every visit.
Only he knew the answer to that one and he wasn’t talking. Not to me anyway.
My visits would sometimes last no more than three or four minutes, rarely longer and usually shorter. Long enough to let my emotions get away with me. Where better than a well maintained cemetery where a father can cry publicly and get away with it.
As time wore on and my grief was somewhat under control, I would test my resolve by seeing how long I could be by his grave side looking at his picture before I fell apart. Two seconds were my shortest, unless you count falling apart from the car to the headstone. I don’t count that, its like points being taken away before you get into the boxing ring.
Ten seconds were about the longest I could last.
Months go by and I am still visiting at least once a week without fail. My visits become more of a personal test. I would talk myself up and say, “today, I don’t cry, today I am a big boy”. The harder I tried the more I cried. I have always been an emotional person but this was getting ridiculous although I had no intention of stopping my visits or trying to hold back my emotions.
On one visit, maybe 3 or 4 months after his death, no sooner had I stepped out of the car, that I knew something was different. As I walked toward his grave a peace came over me I hadn’t felt in years. I knew immediately what it was. Aaron was gone, he was no longer with us or he was no longer tormenting me at his grave.
To this day I don’t know if Aaron let go and made his peace or I let him go.
I was so happy and relieved. I smiled, I laughed, I waved goodbye and of course I cried. But these tears were now tears of joy.
The desire to visit Aaron’s grave after that day vanished. I gave it no more thought. Just like that.
It was months before I visited again. Yes, I cried. It would not have been the same if I hadn’t but the visits became increasingly farther apart each time.
About six months ago I stopped by for a short visit. I wanted to let him know that I am no longer trying to survive his death, that I had become a survivor.
Sitting in the car preparing to go home I smiled. I hadn’t shed a tear. I laughed out loud.
I whispered…”I’m a big boy now”…well, most of the time.