Sunday, May 13, 2007

Grief, Grace and Gratitude

Mother's Day, 1992

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

I love you.

I headed out to the cemetary early this morning. It's a simple and beautiful one. My mother's ashes are interred in a marble block that has benches around it... trees around...quail running through the outskirts. I placed the two tulips into the flower holders of both Mom and my grandmother and grandfather. Then wept.

As I was alone in my memories and tears, I heard a sound to my left. A father and son were clutching to each other..sobbing into the other one's shoulder in front of a crypt several yards away. I turned my face to give them privacy to their grief...and returned to mine. Strangers bound by a common bond... loss.

I can not tell you what made me turn around to look behind me...I only know that I did. A woman, probably in her late thirties or so was walking straight towards my way. She wore jeans, biker boots, a 'Harley-Davidson' tank shirt and a sleeveless denim shirt. Her short, thick hands whispered of a life lived hard. When she saw me turn, she said 'hi'...I managed a drippy 'hi'...thinking she was visiting one of the graves just behind me...which are mostly of children who have passed from this world. Instead, she said something to me...I can not remember what, but I found myself apologizing to her...saying 'I was sorry'... she came up behind me and put her hand on my shoulder and asked if I had lost someone. I told her my mom...and she asked where her plaque was. I pointed to it. She said not to apologize..that crying rids the body of poisons. She said, "I've lost my father...but not my mother. I'm afraid to loose her. Is it hard? Is it harder to loose your mother?" I told her it was the hardest. I asked who she was visiting. She told me twice before I understood what she was saying...her father was buried somewhere else. I wondered why she was here then. She said she was here with a friend 'over there'. I didn't see anyone.

She sat down beside me and began to tell me how she had been estranged from her mother until three years ago. That she now had come to know her mother for the woman that she is and that she had so much admiration and respect for her, and her tears began to fall. I asked where her mother lived and she said 'Apache Junction'. Then she asked me "Should I see her today?" I nodded, then said that if she couldn't see her, at least give her a call today. I could tell that there was a story behind her asking me this on Mother's Day...but it was not for me to pry. We sat there on the marble arm draped around a shoulder... two strangers, yet...two women.... one here for the other.

"I'm Carol." I said as I held out my hand. "Hi Carol. I'm Vonnie."

She shared that she had been divorced and how 'freeing' it was for her...that if a man doesn't treat you the right way, it's time to pack up your toys and go home. She also said that God will send a man into my life if that is what His plan is may be at the restrooms at the state fair, but if that is His plan, then it will happen. (um..I wasn't wondering this...but she kindly offered this advice.) I laughed that I guess I better start going to the fair then... it was a nice relief to the somberness of the moment.

She said she had better get going..that her friend would be wondering where she was. But before she left, she took a picture with her cell phone of the statue on the top of the crypt. It's a white sculpture of Mary holding her son's body in her lap after he was taken down from the cross. She said it's called 'the pieta' and that the original one created by DaVinci is in Italy...where she wants to go. She wished me a happy Mother's Day, gave me a hug, and then turned....running off the way she had come. I turned back towards my mother's crypt...paused.. then turned back to see Vonnie one more time.

She was gone.

I sat for a while thinking about the visit from this woman. The words of comfort that she had brought. The fact that she seemed to appear out of no where, and just as silently, disappear. A simple exchange between two strangers but for a brief moment in time.

Maybe not all angels wear white robes and haloes... riding on feathered, white wings... I thought.

Maybe .. just maybe...some ride on Harley's...


Simplicity Wins said...

Love you...Happy Mothers day! There are no coincidences ;)

Chickenbells said...

How beautiful...I am so sorry for the loss of your mother...but so amazed as always, your incredible ability to draw all the wonderful people to you that you need to...and your patience for sitting with them while they connect with you (you are VERY good at that!) I have seen several Pieta's that Michelangelo and DaVinci have done (in person...they are very powerful) What a beautiful gift.'s time to move towards a different future...and the universe ALWAYS provides. All the right people will be there when they're supposed to matter where it is. I do wonder, however, if one should date a man they met in a restroom at a state fair (that's what she said, right?) after of you may be terribly confused about something if you're both in the same restroom, right?

Meg said...

Powerful. I tend to think you are right...she must have been your angel on a day, a moment, that you really needed it.