It was dark. Just after dusk, really, but dark enough to need a flashlight to see the masterpiece before us. 4 months. It had taken 4 long months to choose a design, have it carved and placed it in it's position of honor and tribute. But the kids didn't know that. All they knew was that they were going to see it although they couldn't have understood why. They couldn't have understood the beauty it possessed or the reason for it's placement.
At least, that is what I thought yesterday.
We walked up the grassy hill without the aid of the flashlight. The four of us, completely unafraid of our surroundings, we there on a mission; one that had to be completed in a timely manner because as responsible parents the children had to be put to bed on time. I am sure the thoughts running through everyone's minds ran the gamut from "That man over there looks like Grandpa." to "Why is this important for us to see?" and everything imaginable in between. The task at hand was unfathomable.
We marveled at the detail. We ran our fingers along the smooth surfaces. We read all the words out loud. We did everything we were supposed to do according to the imaginary handbook.
The stone was uncharacteristically warm to the touch and not what we expected so the man felt the need to point it out to the rest of us.
"It's warm like the blanket is keeping her warm."
The little girl always tells it straight and innocent like a child should. Jaded. Children are jaded. Maybe they should remain they way...but that is another post all together.
We sat on the bench and cuddled up close admiring the view. The children climbed upon the stone in an effort to better understand it's purpose and feel a bit more connected to what was going on around them.
But shortly, it was time to go. We had done what we had come to do. We had seen what we had been seeking.
"It's time. Let's go up the hill and see Great Grandma."
We turned toward the van and began walking and that is when my boy said, in barely a whisper...
"I'll be there in a minute."
The words stopped me in my tracks.
"Are you sure, buddy?"
I knew the answer before he spoke. His eyes told me all I needed to hear.
"Yeah. You go to the van and I'll come when you get there. I just need some alone time."
"Okay," I said and continued to walk.
I looked back at a sight that will never leave my memory. My boy hunched over the back of the headstone of his recently departed grandma staring at the carvings with tears streaming down his face. My heart shattered. My strength slipped away and a tear made it's way down my cheek.
He followed us, just like he said he would. He cried big crocodile tears and let me hold him for a minute. But before we left for home that night, my boy said something that continues to haunt my heart...
"Life is no good without Grandma."
It is up to me as his mother to help him heal from this gaping open wound. It is up to me as his mother to help him find some joy in our "new normal". It is up to me as his mother to help him move on from the black sadness and into a new day. I thought that I had been failing. My strength has been wavering and the ability to carry the burden has been weighing on me.
But it seems that I held on just long enough.
Despite what I have been told, it turns out that a headstone really can bring one the closure they need to move on with their lives. Although it didn't do a damn thing for the pain in my heart, it did help my boy.
My heartbroken little boy finally took the time after 4 months of anguish to have a conversation with his grandma. To say goodbye. To have some alone time to think and ponder what had happened. To find himself what little closure could be bestowed upon him.
And I am extremely proud of the amount of strength that resides in the not so little body of my almost 8 year old little boy.