Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Trading off

My family went on a field trip for Veteran's Day to visit the grave of Great-Grandpa Alvin Russert. He was buried in a cemetery that's just for veterans. I'm not always a fan of cemeteries because it's somber (or intended to be), reminds me of my late loved ones, and sometimes I'm just not in the mood. But we went and I was happy to get out of the house, truth be told.

As expected, many other people were there. All the headstones looked the same, save for a few extras like religious symbols and "beloved wife" or "beloved husband." We thought we knew where G-pa Russert was, but didn't see his stone at first. So we wandered around looking. I let K get down and he was weaving in and out of the headstones. He was barefoot, in good spirits (he had a little phone with him and he was saying Hi a lot, like he was calling people--I had to laugh!), and generally keen on the freedom and the interesting stones.

We finally found G-pa Russert and headed over. We are Jewish and our custom is to put a rock on the headstone, instead of flowers, because they don't die. It can stay there for as long it does.

So we put the rock on and K just look at the headstone, waved, and said, "Hi." Like it was a person, plain as day. Of course that choked us up a little. And then he leaned in to kiss the stone. It was this perfect, unrehearsed, surprising moment of innocence.

I believe in unseen beings and I believe we were actually visiting Grandpa Russert. And it seems K did too. But more than that, I noticed that adults, specifically around letting go of loved ones, have so many conflicting feelings and experiences. I tend to be a bit desensitized, since I have a spiritual connection to my lost loved ones, but letting go of people is not easy to do, or even talk about doing (or not doing).

And here was my kid, saying hi, giving kisses unbid, and clearly not "letting go" of anything. Why should he? He has nothing to let go of. He never knew G-pa Russert physically, so if their relationship is purely spiritual (I know, I am assuming a lot, but he does share my DNA), then he can hold on as tightly as he wants.

That made me feel so much better. K also never met his other Great-Grandpa Keith, who was also a veteran, and just seeing K at ease, saying Hi, planting kisses on cold stone, and not needing to be somber, made me feel better about letting go, because K is happily holding on. We can trade off. I can let go of some things, and K can hold on to them, because honestly, there's not reason for HIM to let go, is there?

If we all let go at once, that would be insane. Some of us need to hold on a little longer, and others can let go in moments. I like that.

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