Thursday was tough, I’ll admit it. The 24th was a sad day, but I had some wonderful friends come over for coffee as soon as I had dropped off the kids at their schools. One brought me roses from her garden and another took a walk with me on the beach. Though most days I quite enjoy my pockets of solitude, it was a good to get out, to move in the world of the living. I didn’t do any office work, but I did dabble on a painting —I needed to let the day leave a mark somehow before it was all over. Later, my parents took the kids and I out to dinner, and we spent the evening enjoying each other’s company, talking about everything but Vernon. I don’t know how that happened—perhaps we were too sad to want to talk about him anymore. It’s been a long Vernon-saturated year.
But I don’t know if it was just sadness for missing him. It was momentous enough to realize we had hit a year. We’d finished the year of firsts. There was a feeling somehow that we had officially reached the end of the official mourning period or something. If I were a Victorian, I would be free to stop wearing a black veil on my black hat. Even Maki, when we got home from dinner that night didn’t want the day to end. He asked a friend from school to come over and take a walk with him. I don’t know what they talked about, if anything…but I appreciated that he still needed to mark the day on his own, and he figured out how to do it and who to call. Again and again, the cream that rises from this whole journey is our wonderful friendships. That day, my bent-up heart filled with gratitude anew.
By the following day, some palpable weight had lifted (not that the future waves of grief won’t come when they will) and there was something invigorating about having a whole year behind us. We’d survived a year without him, after all. Now we know we can do this. A few days later, as planned, we got together with the tribe of friends who knit the closest during Vernon’s death…and the period after. These are the ones we mark our biggest holidays with now. We’ve become a strange sort of family, bonded by the pain of walking someone out of this world, and now we celebrate each others victories and worries with extra interest and care. Vernon left a lot of legacy around us. We raised a glass to his first year in Heaven and put candles on two cakes for two recent earthly birthdays. There was so much joy, so much connection. I could almost feel his presence there again with us. But this time it was his whole presence, nothing broken or confused. Just a gentle washing of knowing and loving. And of course there was music. There will always be music.
…and oh hey, I just now found a font message from Vernon. He knows these things.