By Beckie Carlson
My son and I have been talking a lot about meditation. He struggles with autism and being able to express himself in ways that are appropriate at times. One of the coping mechanisms he has decided to use is meditation.
He has always spent a lot of time alone. It used to really bother me. I know, you might think it bothered him, but it bothered me more. I would see him out in the back yard, swinging sticks around and talking to himself and I would feel the guilt wash over me. You mothers will understand what I mean. My mind would fill with thoughts of how I was neglecting him, I was too busy, I was a bad mom, I need to.........etc, etc, etc.
Many times I would stop what I was doing and go outside to spend time with him. More times than not, he would stop and look at me and tell me he needed his personal time. In a nutshell, "go away." I didn't understand. Now, I felt the feelings of being a bad mom mix with feelings of rejection. Being a mom is grand.
I spent a glorious weekend up in the mountains writing. It was slow going, to be sure. It might be because I had to run, work, and stress to get there. You can't just run a marathon and then lie down, you will cramp up. At least....that's what I've heard. I don't run literal marathons. I had to wait for my mind to wind down. I took a lot of naps and tried to relax. The second day was much more fruitful.
On Saturday, I did something I rarely do. I visited my husband's grave. It's not like I avoid visiting it, I just don't seek out opportunities to go. It is at least three hours away in a direction I don't go. He is nestled safely among the pines and generations of my family. I doubt he is lonely.
Another reason I don't go is that I don't think he is there. It would be quite morbid to think that all our loved ones are just in the ground, waiting around.....no, he's not there. I've heard all the stories of people that go to the cemetery to talk to the ones that have gone ahead. They get guidance or peace or closure. I say to them, right on! That's awesome! Keep it up! For me, I always had a sense of panic or maybe denial in going to the grave.
I had some extra time Saturday between 'gigs'. I felt like I needed to go visit the grave. I went to a florist and got some flowers and drove the half hour up to Taylor. I had the radio off and just drove with my thoughts. I passed a lot of bicyclist and a large 'resting' deer. I didn't get lost.
The cemetery was empty. I was able to drive right up the row next to the grave. I honestly didn't know what I was doing there, but I said a little prayer to help me through.
It's a weird thing looking at your own grave. My name stared up at me, confident next to my husband's. I put my flowers down and sat on the grass. Maybe it was because no one was around, or maybe I was just ready, but I talked. I poured out my heart as I pulled the weeds around the stone. I didn't blame, I didn't pine, I just talked. I told him what I'm sure he already knew, about the state of things. The state of me.
After a while, I shifted and lay back against the grey stone that held my name. Memories of lying next to my husband washed over me. This was physically much less comfortable, but emotionally it felt right. We spent quite a while there, not saying anything, just being.
There is a calm at a cemetery that isn't found anywhere else. My mind traveled away from the stresses of the day, the drive, work, and money.
When Brad was alive, he talked a lot. It was his talent. He kept me up many nights just talking. It was how he worked things out. He would say them out loud and find his way.I think he knew his life would be cut short and he talked enough in his time to fill the long lifetime of any other person. I miss his voice. I miss falling asleep to his rambling.
As I sat there, in the silence of the sunny afternoon, with the breeze gently blowing, I wished I could hear him again. I wished he would tell me what to do, how to feel, give me advice of some kind. I listened for a long time. No voice came, no feeling, no warm embrace. Just the sun, breeze, and sway of the trees.
After a while, the sun shifted and it became hot. I started worrying about ants getting in undesirable places on my person. I said goodbye and made my way to the car. As I drove away, I realized that maybe the silence was what I needed to hear. Maybe, the silence was telling me that I'm okay; I'm doing just fine and I don't need any direction because, 'I got this'.
Life isn't how I planned it. I never wanted to have to try and be mom and dad. But, if I had it my way, I wouldn't have learned nearly as much. I'd still be using my training wheels and sticking to the sidewalk. It may be trickier out here on the road, in the fast lane, but that's the path to where I want to go.
Cause I said so.
Photo credit: www.health-safety-signs.uk.com