The kids all look excited as hell. The dads…very, very tired.
It amuses me.
Sitting next to me for a while, though, was a couple without kids in tow. They were very solemn, and it was apparent from the get-go that their father has passed away, and they’re struggling with it.
Today sucks for them.
There was talk of going to the cemetery and seeing him, putting flowers down, and saying a few things to him. There was also an undertone of guilt because it seemed like neither one really wanted to go there. They were trying to figure out a way around it, wondering if not going made them bad kids for skipping a visit on Father’s Day.
They didn’t ask me; I’m sure they weren’t even thinking about the idea that even though I was sitting here typing away, I could hear and take in their conversation. But had they asked?
No. You’re not bad kids for not wanting to visit your father’s grave. It doesn’t matter that today is Father’s Day or not. You are not horrible, awful, or any of the other adjectives that are threading through your brains.
Maybe it’s because my brain is wired differently that others’ brains are, but I have never visited a grave post-funeral. It’s not that I’m opposed to it; I just don’t see a point.
I don’t need to visit a grave to have a conversation with the now-gone person I care about. They’re not there. What remains is only the container; the soul I loved is wherever souls go: heaven or the ether or a whisper in the wind around me, but they’re not in that grave.
On the other hand, if visiting someone’s grave is important to you, I do see the point. I grasp that some people need a place to visit, where they have something tangible to see and a focal point to talk to. I understand that decorating a gravesite means something, and to not do it feels like a mistake.
I’m just not that person. And I don’t think anyone should feel guilty for not being that person and not wanting to go.
Even on Father’s Day.
There’s nothing magical about Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. It’s not as if I will miss my dad any more today than I do any other day. And the truth is that if I were in Texas where he is buried, I wouldn’t be visiting his grave, not unless my sisters wanted to and wanted me with them.
It would be for them. Not for me. Not for my father.
I imagine I’ll feel the same way on Mother’s Day. I’ll miss my mom…but not quantitatively more than I miss her on any other day.
I miss them every day.
I hate the idea of their not existing in this world. I hate that they didn’t get as many years as I wished for them, or that all the years they did have were not as kind to them as they deserved. I hate everything about dying and feel a bit robbed on their behalf. I was supposed to be an old, old woman before they died.
But…I can talk to them anywhere I happen to be. I can create a visit with them in my own home, on Ocean Beach or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in the middle of staring at incredible works of art in a museum, or hell, even here in Starbucks.
When I get to NY someday and go to see Van Gogh’s Starry Night in the MOMA, you can bet I’ll be carrying them with me.
A grave is not necessary for the communion of sharing with the dead. No one should feel guilty for not wanting to visit the grave of someone they loved. No one should feel weird or awkward because they want and need to, either.
Remember the people you loved on your own terms. That’s all that matters, as long as you remember them.