The flags were flying high and proud at Ft. Gibson National Cemetary this past Monday.
I took a solitary road trip to visit my dad’s grave.
This trip was a journey of healing for me.
Not complete healing, only partial. But I’ll take partial.
My dad’s death hasn’t seemed real to me. He lived in another town and although we facebooked regularly, we only saw each other about every 4-6 months. He would call me up or send a message saying “I’ll be out that way about Tuesday.” Just out of the blue like that. Whenever he’d take the notion. I’ve been expecting to hear from him anyday now.
Driving into the cemetery, searching for section 24, site 146 and seeing his gravestone made it real for me. Realizing that I would be driving into his town, see the stores, see the family, see the memories but not see him, made it real for me. Not feeling his hug and his sloppy kiss on my cheek made it real for me.
Whenever we’d leave town, he’d stand on the porch on Cedar Street, lean on the railing and wave us good-bye for as long as we could see him. That too didn’t happen this trip. It won’t ever happen again.
It was good for me to face it all. A tiny piece of my broken heart was sewn together this past weekend. And as time passes, more stitches will be added. The void won’t be so vast. The hole won’t feel so empty.
The stages of grief are:
Today, I accept it.
Tomorrow may be a different story.
But today I’m okay.