Last year at this time, I remained somewhat silent. I posted some thoughts; but to be perfectly frank, I did not write the about my deep feelings. I had another post in mind which I put on the back burner, too raw and painful to reveal to the world. This year, I pondered the same predicament… to post or not to post my feelings. I wrote the following piece earlier in April and have gone back and forth on whether to publish it. After much thought, I decided this year I would put it all out there. For better or for worse, these were my thoughts one warm day in April. My hope is that they will help others… somehow.
Today I drove past the funeral home that coordinated your memorial service as I have done many times since April 2011, but today was different. The sun was out, the flowers were blooming, the trees have just started to blossom, a playful wind cooled my body since temperatures were higher than normal. We’ve been dealt a streak of picturesque spring days after a cold, prolonged winter. It can’t be more perfect.
As I drove past the funeral home, I could tell there was a funeral about to occur. I recognized this by the large number of cars in the parking lot, by the men in dark suits milling around outside, by seeing one of the attendants who helped with your service standing at the entrance of the parking lot, by the black hearse which was parked at the nearby church waiting to take the body to its final resting place.
I’ve driven by the home at other times like this since your passing, but the contrast of the perfect spring day with the darkness of those awaiting the service of someone I do not know awakened something inside of me, something that has been numb all winter, the part of me that needed to cry. My eyes have been dry although my sorrow was present and my spirit withered.
I was overwhelmed with emotion and cried… right then and there, big, heavy tears that were quickly brushed aside so that the bank teller I would encounter in less than a minute wouldn’t ask me if I needed help. But I didn’t forget. I didn’t forget that picture; the scene continued to play in the back of mind throughout the morning. I couldn’t forget the overwhelming sadness knowing that you should be here on such a beautiful day…. how you would have feasted on it.
Ian and I went to the grocery store, and when we got home, he was determined to eat lunch outside. In his child-like enthusiasm of our first spring picnic, he took the blue blanket from the living room and spread it on the grass while I gathered the lunch items. While we ate, the breeze tickled our noses and bare toes; it was everything I’ve been waiting for all winter long.
When we finished our lunch, I had a few moments of peace while Ian was occupied exploring the outdoors.
Then it all came flooding back—the scene and the emotions from earlier this morning. I laid down on the blanket and wept quietly so Ian wouldn’t know, soaking the blue blanket with tears.
I thought of you for some time, and then another scene came to mind. One recent evening while driving to our house, a friend of Daniel’s and mine came upon a young man standing on a bridge spanning a busy highway, one leg hanging over the railing of the bridge. Our friend stopped his car and approached the young man who appeared to be thinking about jumping off the bridge, which was confirmed by the conversation that followed.
Thankfully our friend was able to talk with the young man until the police arrived and successfully removed the intended-jumper from the bridge. Daniel asked me later, “Would you have stopped for that guy?” Sadly, I had to really question myself, would I have stopped?, and if not, why?.
It wouldn’t be because I don’t care about him—I think each person is extremely valuable. It wouldn’t be because I was in too much of a hurry to stop—if time was what it took, I’d stand there for hours. It wouldn’t be because I didn’t want to be involved with “messy” people—I think we’re all pretty messy, some hide it better than others.
So why would I drive by? Other than the fact that I most likely wouldn’t realize what that young man was intending to do because I don’t think in those terms too often, it would be fear. Fear would keep me from stopping… fear of the unknown, fear for myself and fear for my children if they were with me.
Today, as we’re approaching 2 years’ time of you leaving us, I considered the question again—Would I have the courage to stop?
I now have an answer. I can only pray that I would quickly comprehend the situation and stop immediately. I would stop whatever I was doing so that another family doesn’t have to miss someone the way we miss you, Alicia… so that the sight of daffodils and calla lilies remains beautiful and flawless, not tinged with sadness and longing… so that driving by a funeral home doesn’t inflict waves of pain upon another. I will stop… and wait for hours… and get messy… because each person is valuable.
What my heart longs to tell you, Alicia, is that just as I fear I might miss the person intending to jump off a bridge simply because I’m naive, I didn’t realize you were there. I didn’t know. I would have stopped for you… and waited as long as you needed… and gotten messy. Please, forgive me.
Dear, sweet Alicia…. I miss you so much.