I wanted to mark the 23rd of May somehow. The day has been so important to our family since Vernon was hit. Every passing year, we did something special, but this would be the first year that we couldn’t return to him afterwards. I’ve been thinking about that too: how life is simpler because we don’t have to return to him. As much as I miss him, I can remember how hard he had it. It’s right to be thankful that he’s not suffering now (and that we don’t have to watch him suffer.)
So…how to celebrate this day now that it had arrived. How could we make it positive and not sad. Suddenly, I had the idea to buy the kids presents. Doing things for others, after all, is a great way to fight the blues. What would Vernon get his children if he were here? What gift would give them comfort?
I bought Justine a fuzzy blanket…knowing she loves being cozy and snuggly. A blanket is like a warm hug, which is I’m sure what she most misses about having a dad. For now, its’ her favorite thing— it waits for her on her car seat and then goes in and out of the house with her.
Maki said he wanted to go to Guitar Center after school, if only for an hour. I knew Vernon would have dropped everything to give him that small wish, so it was an easy choice. I listened to him play a few different guitars for awhile, then bought him a guitar strap to mark the day. Just like Justine’s love language seems to be wrapped in cuddles, Maki’s voice is securely set in music these days.
For myself, I didn’t get a gift, but decided pretty spontaneously to move my wedding band to my right hand. It struck me as a good compromise…I haven’t wanted to take it off for fear of losing it, but I felt that I needed to make some physical and symbolic change to help me move through a stuck-stage of grief. This is small enough and big enough for me. I tell myself I can always move it back if I want to. But for now, I’m just feeling it out. So far, so good.
In the evening…the ones who could make it from the Tribe of Vernon came together around a fire-pit at the beach. These are the ones who walked through hospice with him and the ones who helped us disperse his ashes. We didn’t talk about him really, we just set up camp, roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, watched the children play, listened to the young ones make their music, and fell into the comfort of familiar togetherness. That’s all that was needed to gently cross the threshold into Year Four.