I've just come home from a late night rendezvous with my friend. One we try to do each year on this day. We met at the cemetery. This year it was late and well into the blackest part of night. We haven't had our cemetery visit at night in a long, long time. I have been there in the darkness on Christmas Eve when the ice candles fill the hills. But in this early springtime those hills are covered with tombstones and solar lights of all kinds of colours. It was beautiful and peaceful, though a little cold with the crispness of snow still lingering in the air. So though the earth is bare of snow, you know it lingers in the shadowy places not yet melted away.
This year we both had children in tow. As we drove in our separate cars to meet, we explained to them the five "W's". They've heard it before, but we usually go just the two of us, so the story needs re-telling for these young ears. "Mom, I'm going to build a time machine, they will exist one day you know. And I'm going to go back to just before the accident and get the ice off that spot on the road." "She didn't deserve it Mom." "She ONLY got 19 years?!" "Mama, that means she never got babies." This is the course of comments in my car as we drive across town in pjs. I'm glad to have brought them.
They say the cemetery is spooky and stay in the car when my friend gets there. Her son hands me a rose and one to his mom. The kids jump in with mine. And we both think that's fine, this is a climb and vigil we like to do alone. "Wow, is it getting steeper, or are we getting older?" "No, it's just really uneven." "You know we're going to be 80 climbing this hill together." We laugh. "I hope so." "Me too." We talk and tidy, reflect and remember until our teeth start to chatter and we shiver. We lay flowers on the grave stone of our dear friend. Mine yellow, hers pink, laid side by side on the cold, dark stone. Then we walk back to the car, returning to our lives and the world. The kids jumping around in the lit up van - playing and giggling.
I think about how this is her 40th birthday and think how lucky I am for all that I have gotten to do in my life. I think of how young 19 is and how much living has happened between then and now. I start to count the good things and all the people I love. And fight back the shame of my ingratitude and any thought i've had that my life has been less with a vow that I will remember. I will remember her and how fortunate I am. And I'll smile, dance, tell jokes, laugh and have fun and live life to the fullest, because that's is how she lived her 19 years and she'd be pissed if I didn't do the same. : ) I can still hear her laugh.