Dad drove past the cemetery, he was talking and telling me "That cemetery is the other one." I looked over at him askance. I have no idea where we are; driving around in the beautiful hills of upstate New York, to go find a tiny cemetery that a family friend owns. He took me there before, it is a beautiful location up on a hill over looking a verdant valley. But thats how the entire drive has looked so... Five minutes later he's is turning around saying "What am I doing here?" As we travel back we both muse on how little sleep we are getting. Altho this morning I overslept horribly. I also got 8 hours of sleep but I have felt muzzy headed all morning. Sipping my mug of Dragon Well green tea, a favorite of my Dads. It's a delightful green aroma, tangy with a small acrid bitter finish. Time seems to be turning in slow motion. We pull in to the cemetery and no one is here... but as soon as we park, the white truck on the neighboring farm starts up and comes over.
Dad and I walk over to the plots, they are marked out in lime and with sticks, apparently headstones take months to carve, oh look the movies get it wrong... Such a small hole. Dad takes the box of mom's cremains and holds it out. It's so small. It can't be more than a 7 inch cube, it's heavy. He asks his friend (A person I regard as a sister from another mother.) "What we do now?" She says that it is up to us... Apparently Catholics usually all go away at this point, they have a service in a church. We have already had the service and it's just dad and me on top of this hill. With the family that owns this tiny cemetery.
Meanwhile I'm fascinated by how small the hole is. There is at least 15 ants and 3 beetles down there. Life in the cemetery, it strikes me how much life is here. The wild flowers they let grow dot the expanse of the graveyard. They dance in the slight breeze to a tune the winds sets for them. It's so lovely and quiet.
Such a small cemetery, such a small hole, such a small box, this cannot express the greatness of my mother. She is not in that little box, who we are is secure in Christ. My mom is only represented by this small box of ashes, this is all that is left of her physical body, but she is not here, She is in heaven.
Dad interrupts my musing and says "Well shall I put her in?" So he does lovingly with such gentleness that just shows the great love their marriage held. He took one last photo. He won't let me have a copy, it's ok. I'm a visual person and the image of that tiny box, in the tiny hole that cannot contain the love they had is what struck me so powerfully this morning. Dad speaks of reading in his bible the passage today about how God spoke to Adam and said from the earth you came and so shall we one day return to the earth. Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground, because out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.
One awkward moment later he says "So where is the dirt? What happens now?" I love how human it all is. They bring over a wheelbarrow full of earth and said "Well you're in charge. Do you want to fill in the hole or?..." leaving the sentence hanging in the air. Dad takes the shovel and puts in the first shovel full of earth, unable to contain them tears spring into his eyes. He then hands me the shovel, tears bittersweet overflow my eyes. I go to scoop up the dirt and find so many rocks. I avoid them and pour a scoop of sweet earth over what remains of my mom. The young man takes back his shovel, and deftly, carefully fills in the rest of the hole. Placing the sod back on top. Some of it is missing... so perfect! My mind delights, what a true refection of how imperfect our life is, even in death. I walk away and find 3 wild flowers I pick them and take them back to the bare spot and place them on it. My Dads friend also goes to her moms grave nearby and plucks some blossoms and adds them to mine. So sweet a moment and yet so painful.
We say goodbye