Ch.158 I Visit Pat’s Grave on Her Birthday

Ch.158 I Visit Pat’s Grave on Her Birthday 

Sept.1 and 2, 2022

          Pat would have been 78 years old on Sept.1, exactly two months after her death on the first of July. Unsurprisingly, I decided to visit her grave on her birthday. I rode with my son Joshua and his wife Patty 70 miles to Hudson, WI, where Pat is buried alongside her parents and brother. We walked the short distance to her grave, bringing with us two sets of artificial flowers I had selected for the urns on the family marker. Blue was Pat’s favorite color and so blue dominated the sets. It took several minutes for us to shorten and equalize the stems of the flowers and arrange them properly. Hopefully they will survive our blustery Wisconsin winters.

          We stood quietly before Pat’s grave for perhaps ten minutes. I thought about how much I missed her; I cried a little. I’m sure Joshua and Patty did the same. We hugged and cried together. And then we walked back to the car and went into Hudson for a meal. I felt warmed by Joshua and Patty’s love; I knew they came to Hudson both to honor Pat and to comfort me; they didn’t want me to be there alone in my sorrow.

          It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized something was missing; I could have asked for some time alone with Pat, a request that would certainly have been granted graciously. The fact that I hadn’t thought of that told me I was reluctant to let go at the cemetery. I wasn’t sure why I was so hesitant, and it didn’t really matter. What was important, I realized, was to have that personal conversation now. I walked over to my favorite picture of Pat, one in which she is looking up from a newspaper she was reading and smiling. She appeared to be carefree and relaxed, joyful. I told her everything I could think of that has happened to me since July: my commitment to say “yes” to social opportunities instead of my habitual “no;” the easygoing visit with my brother Don; my decision to volunteer at Azura, Pat’s memory care center; my upcoming trip to the quilt show in Madison (Pat was a quilter and we went to the show together once before); taking my dog Levi everywhere with me; waking up alone every morning; missing her so much; missing her so much; missing her, missing her, missing her.

 I must have repeated the phrase “I miss you so much” thirty times. It seems to have become my personal mantra, guaranteed to be accompanied by tears. I feel I’m connecting with Pat when I say I miss her so much, as if she hears my words and knows I will never forget her. I’m reassuring myself as well, that I will remember Pat the rest of my life, remembering her as a living, vibrant human being.