In an attempt to get a grip on my feelings of the anniversary of my aunt’s passing, I knew I would need to move out of my comfort zone. I’ve been reticent to leave my house for fear of risking my health. I’ve worked hard to protect my fragile immune system. I’m still wary of the uneducated opinions of the unmasked masses. I realized I had no choice but to mitigate my fears and allow myself to honor my aunt.
Despite my concerns, I needed to respect the integrity of my beliefs. My aunt deserved to have me follow our tradition. The task was to travel to the gravesite of my grandparents before visiting my aunt and uncle’s grave.
Before leaving my house, I voiced my affirmations of love for my departed aunt. I stood staring at her picture sitting beside the flickering flame of the Yahrzeit candle. I long to be a maven of our family traditions. I feel that I will be the last one to honor our customs. While they are a visceral part of who I am, my daughters don’t feel the same way.
As we entered the gates, we noticed two hearses parked on the left. I was feeling deep grief for those people just beginning the difficult process of saying goodbye to their loved ones. In the year since my aunt left this realm, I have had to accept that the entire generation before me is no longer here. It is a difficult reality with an abundance of sadness.
We visited my grandparent’s grave first. Even with my forgetful brain, I somehow remembered to bring the rocks to put on the headstones. There were masked workers nearby attending to some gravestones. They gave us a nod of acknowledgement as we paid our respects. I felt grateful that they were masked, even though they were not close to us. (In the grand scheme of things, I know it wasn’t a top priority, but it crossed my mind.) I thanked my grandparents for all they gave me that contributed to who I am. The one thing I can thank bio-dad for is having incredible parents.
We then went to the northern part of the cemetery where my aunt and uncle are buried. I was distraught at the appearance of their headstone. The space directly beside them had obviously just been filled in. Someone else was experiencing a new grief of losing a beloved family member. A paper marker was placed where the headstone will be in the future.
I could not leave my family’s gravestone in such a state. I used my hands to work on clearing away the dirt and debris. My spouse went to the nearby sinks and brought over water and a paper towel. That made my task easier. It took three more water containers and many more paper towels to make the gravestone presentable. It felt I was completing an act of reverence by caring for their headstone.
After leaving the cemetery, we traveled to the beach. We had to go to two beaches in order to find a parking spot. The sunny day was perfect without too much wind. Despite the parking shortages, the beach was not too crowded. People were socially distanced which made me very comfortable. We watched as a couple of brave souls went far out into the water. One young dad kept running after his toddler son as he attempted to run into the ocean. It was a heartwarming scene. We walked along the beach where the cold waves were breaking. We did get caught by a few unexpected swells. My spouse is not a fan of getting his shorts wet when he doesn’t have a change of clothes. It was joyful to be at the beach remembering to enjoy the life we have while we can.
After leaving the beach I insisted on going for BR ice cream. My aunt had a very strong metabolism. She could eat anyone under the table and never gain a pound. My spouse and I laughed at the fact that every time we would take my aunt and uncle to dinner, no matter how full everyone was, my aunt wanted ice cream before going home. I know that my being a chocoholic is another thing that was a binding family tie.
The trip home was very difficult for me. Even with my medical seat cushion and back cushion, I was in the car for far too long. My body was in a great deal of pain, but it was well worth it. I was happy that I paid my respects, enjoyed being in nature, and felt safe. As I move past the first year without any members of my prior generation, I reflect on being the eldest generation now. I wonder what my children and grandchildren will cherish about me.
Your life gave me joy
Your traditions I shall borrow
Your memories give me strength
Your death brought me sorrow
I hold your spirit in my heart
For a more joyful tomorrow
Written for these daily prompts:
Ragtag Daily Prompt (fear, fragile. flickering, abundance, watched)
The Daily Spur (grip, workers, north, appearance, cold wave)
E.M.’s Random Word Prompt (wary)
Your Daily Word Prompt (mitigate, allow, integrity, beside)
Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (reticent, opinion, maven, visceral)
(Eugis Weekly Prompt (affirmations)
Word of the Day Challenge (task, forgetful)
Tuesday Writing Prompt