Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas at the Cemetery

The cemetery was packed today. When I went to go visit Blake's grave to give him a Christmas present, I saw more people than I've ever seen there. Since I've always been a huge fan of people watching, this was really fascinating to me. I ended up observing for a couple hours.

A few rows behind and to the right of Blake's plot there is a grave of a little girl. Every time I've visited, I always noticed her's because it's decorated elaborately for every occasion. She's had balloons, toys, pinwheels, and this time, a Christmas theme of tinsel, Santa, and fake snow. Today she had about 12 visitors. There were adults, teenagers, and even a couple of babies. Since the group was in my line of sight, I ended up watching them almost the whole time I was there. It was interesting to me that all throughout, not a single person cried. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. The family laughed, joked, embraced each other, and added to the pile of decorations overflowing from her plot.

In stark contrast, there was a woman who briefly stopped by to visit her mother. She came alone and without a smile. I watched her walk up to the headstone, tour around it, and kneel down. She feverishly plucked the stray blades of grass around the perimeter. We made eye contact, she bowed her head, and returned to her car. The wheels screeched as she sped away just minutes after she came.

And then there was me. When I wasn't busy observing everyone else, I had bouts of endless tears. I realized that I haven't been crying very much lately. I guess all of the emotion stored up was finally released as I sat by Blake's grave. I cried and cried and cried, like I was the person who invented it.

I sat there with an achy feeling. I started thinking about us during Christmas time last year and remembering how much Blake loved this holiday. I let my mind drift to a scene of what this week could've looked like for us. I wanted to capture that image in a snow globe, shake it, and let sparkles dance around it. But I wasn't joyous like the little girl's family; I wasn't uneasy like the woman either. I was somewhere at the intersection of the two, trying to figure out how to express both my love and sadness. Honestly, all I wanted to do was lie down on the dirt and rest my head next to his picture. A spiritual connection wasn't enough; my body hurt with the urge to physically be with him.

So I put on lipstick and kissed the back of some receipts I found floating around in my purse. Even though I wasn't actually kissing Blake, the sensation of forming my lips into a pucker felt strangely calming. My lips were made to do that, so I think that's why they've felt a little lost and useless these past seven months. They were born to scrunch their soft skin and communicate the love contained within them. Even if it was silly, it was a comfort to finally put my lips to use.

I realized today that every time I visit the cemetery, I'm looking for something different. The first time I went on his birthday, I wanted to feel united with his loved ones. I needed to feel like we will all get through this together with each other's love and support. On our anniversary, I sat there with the need for connection. I wanted to feel his presence to confirm that we were still part of each other. And I guess today, I needed to give love. I needed to show myself that I still have the capacity to kiss. To prove to myself that I'm not irreparably broken.

Everyone I observed at the cemetery today came for a reason. I believe that the cemetery was so crowded because Christmas time reminds everyone of loved ones and togetherness. Some of us, like the little girl's family, came to honor their loved one by celebrating the lives they're lucky to still be living together. Others, like the daughter, came to quickly, solemnly, and earnestly pay their respects. And people like me came in search of something: an emotional release, a connection, or maybe a sign. Although these motives represented by the family, woman, and me may seem different, we are all the same. No matter how we chose to express it, our actions were all rooted in love.

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