It is the day after my father's funeral, time to regroup and begin again.
Today is our second Sunday school class. This is probably one of the best places to be after experiencing what at First Unitarian we call "a milestone event in our lives." To be among young children is one of the most uplifting activities that can happen in a day. They are unfettered by the problems adults so often let bring them down. Not that they don't get sad or worried, but they tend not to dwell excessively on these things, at least not until they get a little older.
After church I have been invited by one of my families to a bouncy house birthday party. I am really looking forward to this. I am hoping I get to go in the bouncy house!
When I arrive the kids are so excited. They gather at the side of the bouncy house to day hello and press their faces into mine. They invite me into the bouncy house right away. Now I am so excited. I wiggle in though the toddler sized door and bounce and talk to children I currently watch, or have cared for at some other time. It is a bouncy house reunion!
It is an odd thing to be in the bouncy house with a bag pulling at my belly with every bounce. I wonder if this is something I will ever really get used to, the constant small reminder that my body is not all together. I bounce away anyway, trying to keep my bag under control and forget about it. The only time I achieve this is when I get out of the house.
The party is great, I get to visit with some parents I haven't seen in a while, and have more lengthy conversation with some I see every day. Shortly after the cake, I leave to meet my daughter Ayla. We are curious about where my dad is buried, and are planning on going to the cemetery to check it out.
The ride out to Exeter takes awhile, maybe forty five minutes, but it is a scenic. Only a few of the trees have started changing color, but the grey brooding sky makes a dramatic backdrop to the early golden and green leaves. It is as if we are in a movie, sadness with impending rain.
The cemetery is huge. I text my sister to find out where my dad's grave is. We were told yesterday, but numbers don't stick in my head on a regular day. The main part of the cemetery is set up like a big wheel, with spokes that lead to different sections. My dad's grave is far across a huge field of stone markers that lie flush with the earth. Once we find the right section, it is easy to find the grave. It is in a row of graves that is not yet complete, with freshly disturbed tan colored soil. His temporary marker is the last one in the row, with room for many more beside him.
It reminds me of the rows of bunks found in the sleeping quarters on a battleship. Uniform and stark, with a designated space for each enlisted sailor to stretch out in, not an inch more than what is needed.
There are rules posted in the cemetery, about what you can and cannot place on gravesites. There is evidence everywhere that these rules are not strictly followed. Candles, stones, figurines, hats, all kinds of mementos have been placed on the markers by loved ones. They are snapshots of the former lives of those bones that lie beneath the uniform stone markers. My father's grave is topped by a small, temporary green frame with his name on it. Grass seed has been spread, but not watered. It looks so barren.
Ayla and I decide to go to the farmstand just up the road to see what we can get to make his space seem like more more than the dusty patch that it is . There are many beautiful plants bursting with color filling the greenhouse. I try to keep in mind that this plant will be on it's own, and most likely not last long. I end up buying daisies. We go back to the cemetery and encircle them with rocks so they won't blow over. There is a small pile just to the side of his marker, as if someone had anticipating our need.
I realize that my father probably would not care if there were flowers on his grave. He was not a man who worked the earth, or who was drawn to blossoms. These are more for me, and to somehow indicate that here lies a man who was known and loved.
We drive home and they grey sky finally releases it's gathered sorrow. This will help our daisies grow.