Today was beautiful. The sun was out and it was breezy. Patrick had a meeting in Southern West Virginia, so I drove him to the meeting then headed to Morgantown for the day. It was nice to be on my "home turf", although there are so many new things that I sometimes feel very out of place.
I've been meaning to drive to Tunnelton, WV for about 7 months now. It's a good 50 minutes away. The weather has kept me closer to home. I had no special connection to Tunnelton until last August. My dad is buried in a cemetery there.
I've not been to see my dad since he died. Some of me had been putting off, but most of me was ready. Since I didn't have anything to do today, I thought it would be the perfect day to face my fears, to face my past, my present and my future. I didn't think it would be too hard, until I was on the road to Tunnelton.
About half way there, I got nervous. I was a little shaky, I was scared, I was ready, but I wasn't. I stopped to get flowers for the grave. The lady at the flower shop was very sweet and very empathetic. I appreciated that. I didn't know if there would be any already there, but I wanted to leave something for him. It's so weird to talk about "seeing" him or leaving something "for" him. I know full well that he is dead, but there is an undeniable comfort in sitting face to face with a rock with your dead fathers name on it that I really can't explain.
I finally pull up to the grave yard, take a deep breath, and walked over to his grave. The headstone looked really nice. I hadn't seen it since we picked it out. I wasn't really sure what to do or where to begin. So, I tried to remember how the lady at the flower shop told me to make the flowers stay in the ground (there's no vase on the stone and she gave me a little thing to stick in the ground). I fumbled a bit, talking to my dad, crying. At last, I remembered what to do and got the flowers firmly stuck in the ground. I laid my coat down and sat, a little uncomfortably, in front of my dad's headstone. I couldn't remember what I wanted to say, I couldn't remember what I wanted to tell him. So, I cried. Loudly, for several minutes.
Cars would drive by, I'm sure pondering my tears and who I was sitting before. I would if I were them. I didn't care. Crying, laughing, talking, I didn't care what they thought of me. I was visiting my dad. I remembered all the things I wanted to talk to him about. I told him about the farm, about Indiana, PA. I told him how Piper was growing. I told him about the repairs on his house, so we could sell it. I asked him questions that I never had the courage to ask. I told him about our new car. I told him things I felt when he died. I told him things my counselor told me about healing. I cried. I told him how I felt about him dying. I even made a few jokes and laughed out loud, soberly reminded that I was laughing alone. I told him I missed him something fierce. I told him I loved him with even more fierceness.
I sat there, with my dad, for about 45 minutes. At some point, I realized I was no longer uncomfortable. I felt like that spot on the ground was made for me to sit and stay a while. I made a heart with small rocks laying around. Unfortunately, I realized that most of them were probably from the dirt, dug deeply from the ground to cover his casket. I didn't care about that either. I played with the grass, with dry leaves, with the daises I brought. I felt like I was on a first date, kind of. I found it nearly unbelievable that I was talking to my dead father. Maybe I didn't want to believe it, I rarely do. Maybe I was just in a new shock. Maybe I wasn't ready.
Being there today was good for me. It was much harder than I thought it would be. So many vivid memories flooded my mind; thoughts of times with my dad, thoughts of him dying, thoughts of the viewing and the funeral, thoughts of my sobbing after everyone was gone and they were lowering him into the ground (I probably shouldn't have watched that...oh well). Although I trust that the Lord is carefully and tenderly healing me, I have these moments of utter confusion. Is this seriously happening? It is and I'm grateful to have the Lord to guide me through it. I have a lot of questions. I have a lot of hurt and wounds. But most importantly, I have a Heavenly Father who knows all of that, who will never abandon me to the grave, He'll never leave me and He loves me more than I'll ever know. For those reasons, I'll just surrender all I have to Him and trust that someday, I'll know what needs to be known.
Today was a hard day.