I was informed yesterday that the gravestone has been placed at my mom's burial site. I tried to reassure myself that this doesn't change anything. Her death isn't any more final than it was before. But it was still a reminder and it affected me in a stronger way than I expected.
I saw a photo of the gravestone. Seeing a loved one's date of birth and date of death chiseled into stone is startling. Nothing about a rock and a small hole in the ground have anything to do with my mother. But there was her full name, laid bare, exposed to the elements. Her epitaph says "Beloved wife, mother and friend." It's perfect. And those words ripped my heart out.
In the picture, I could see the sod around the gravestone - it looked like patchwork where it was torn up and replaced. If only my heart was so easily pieced back together.
Today a friend wished me a happy Thanksgiving and said, "All the firsts will be hard." She's right. But the holidays this year aren't really the first. Mom didn't celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with us last year, either. And it's still hard.
I'm looking forward to seeing my siblings tomorrow, sharing a meal, and taking refuge in each others' company. It will be loud. We will laugh until our sides hurt. Our spouses will roll their eyes. My nephew will entertain us all with his 14-month-old charm and charisma. There is still so much to be grateful for.
I wish you a day of celebration tomorrow, wherever you may be and whoever you share it with.