Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Place I Do Not Wish To Go

Yesterday was Memorial Day. It's the time we remember loved ones passed and especially to honor those military members who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Many people visit the cemetery to leave flowers upon the graves of family members. It's a tradition passed down from one generation to the next.

Me? That is a place I do not wish to go.

I remember going often as a child with my mother and grandmother to the cemetery each year wandering from one family grave site to the next leaving beautiful handpicked flowers for each member who had passed on.

Now? I want to avoid the cemetery at all cost.

For now two separate cemeteries hold two people whom I love most. My beautiful son Joseph and my amazing little brother Mark.

While cemeteries often bring a sweet feeling of peace and quiet, for me they are the period at the end of a terrible sentence. It is there that I cannot deny that my son is gone. It is there that I remember the last day spent with my younger brother. It is there that the solidity of their passing hits me most.

I don't want to be there. I don't want to remember.

I would rather remember each of them alive, whole and well. I would rather imagine Mark laughing over some video he's watching on his computer. I would rather remember Joey running through our backyard playing soldier with his closest friends.

If I imagine hard enough, I can see both of them in my mind's eye being very much alive.

Sometimes I imagine that Joey is off at a scout camp, a long weekend away from our family. I imagine that soon he will be home and I'll throw my arms around him and whisper into his ear how much I miss him. For Mark I imagine he's still at home with my Mom holed up in his room doing something he loves best.

But going to the cemetery crumbles this idea. It reminds me they are gone. Reminds me of how permanent the separation feels. It is hard. It is painful.

It is not about forgetting to honor the dead. It's not about doing one more last thing for each of them by standing at their grave and leaving a memento of my love. For me it's simply about the loss. And that's something I avoid dwelling on whenever possible.

I honor them both. I honor them when I remember the legacy of love they both left. I honor them when I live right, openly, and honestly. I honor them when I tell them into the wind that I love them. I honor them by never forgetting even for a single moment that they are mine: my son, my brother.

So on those days when I have enough courage to visit the cemetery, I stand at their grave. I feel the weight of their loss. And I, like everyone else, leave them a little something from me to them.

But it's not a place I want to go. So instead I'll remember them my way: happy, full of life, and forever together.

It's the way I choose to memorialize them. And I'll never forget.


  1. Wow. So well said Jen. My mom often asks me why I don't go to the cemetery to 'visit' my dad. Now I know how to respond. Going there does remind me of all the pain he had to go through the last 6 years of his life. He has been gone for almost 10 years. I don't usually dream about him but when I do I don't dream of him as he looked when I was a kid. I dream of him with his legs amputated. Maybe one day I will dream of him as the whole, vibrant, funny person that he was when I was growing up.

    1. I do hope you get to dream about him whole and well. I think sometimes we remember the last memories of them more than others. Thank you for sharing your story with me.

  2. All my love, Jen.

  3. Jen, I have no words other than I'm sorry! <3

    1. We're in a good place. I think sometimes it just helps me to let stuff out by writing it out.

  4. I've just cried with your beautiful words Jen, my thoughts are with you.

  5. Well said Jen. It took me a long time before I could break away from guilt and loss and have those happy memories. Still there are times that we remember the pain.. Today something as simple as seeing the title on one of the songs played at his funeral. Those bring the pain with a huge intake of breathe. Xxx

    1. Oh Wendy. You're right: the little things. :( Hugs!

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  7. Your honesty really touches the heart and I feel so sorry for your losses. I really admire the way you cope and I feel so inspired by the way you share it. Thank you!


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