I visited my parents this week. Yes I had to come across the country to do so. But my parents are both dead. My dad in 1994 and my mom in 2006. It is hard to be an orphan. It happens to us all. I was lucky I was an adult when my folks died. But for me the sadness I feel at missing them is always with me.
Even as I drove into the cemetery I could feel the tears coming. Every time I do get to visit their grave sites which isn’t nearly as often as I would like, I well up inside. And the tears always flow. The section they are buried in is a small Jewish section in a municipal cemetery. Off in a far corner of the cemetery, behind a traditional hedge that sets it apart from the rest, my parents’ two graves have simple markers. That was their preference too.
I always have to dig around to find a stone to leave. I had to apologize to my Dad because while I found one stone of decent size, the second stone was smaller and this time he got the smaller stone. I didn’t want to insult him. But they never have pebbles or stones nearby, and somehow leaving a pine cone wasn’t the same.
I also have a nephew buried near-by. Actually a great nephew who died of SIDS as an infant. I always spend some time with him as well. Imagining his life if he had lived.
I know many people today are choosing other options instead of burial. Some choose to donate their bodies to science. And this is a noble option. Others go against Jewish tradition and choose cremation. It is certainly less expensive. But I take comfort in visiting the cemetery. And visiting my parents at least once a year when I come east.
I talk to them daily. And give thanks for their lives But I know if I lived nearby-I would visit more frequently. It brings me comfort.
I hope it brings them a measure of comfort and peace as well.