My mother would have been 76 years old today. My daughter, Robyn, and I, made a 2 hour trek to the cemetery where she is - at least her physical form, to pay our respects.
It's a Jewish cemetery so we weren't allowed to drive into the actual grounds, being Saturday, so we hopped (or rather limboed) our way beyond the chain link, grabbed two lawn chairs and after each placing a stone on top of the headstone to keep company with the other non-socially distanced rocks, sat in silence.
Mom has been with me a lot these days. I won't get into it because I don't even know what to make of it, myself. Is it only me?
I am always stuck between wanting to believe and wanting to just accept, as if the two are mutually exclusive. As I mentioned to Robyn, I think the problem is that we think we are living in a physical reality and then retrofit our spirit into that, when I am starting to think it is was always meant to be the other way around.
Staring straight ahead at the last names on the headstone and memorializations on the footnotes (my mother's and my grandparents), it struck me how permanent everything felt and looked - the stone, the dates, the names, the well-manicured oaks and maples decorating the property. Yet, with my eyes closed I could feel the pulsation of the sun on my face, the breeze brushing my face with varying intensity and the rising and passing of my own presence. Life, change, shifts - they are all around us and within us, too.
I imagined heading another hour or so further north to Connecticut where we would have ordered in some lunch and celebrated my mother's birthday. Or the week at the shore she missed with the family in the ocean, playing board games and moving forward in their own individual journeys. These were all the gifts she ever wanted. In return, the only thing to offer her now is the hope of another birthday that won't get forgotten - whether it's through a silent visit or a shared memory. Those ways of celebrating, too, will shift and change as years and decades unfold. But they will never stand still.