Mama’s marker was placed on her grave last week. A cousin sent me a photo of it. When I saw his message in my inbox, I knew what it was. I stared at the message header for a long time before I actually opened it. I knew what was waiting for me, and I didn’t know how I would handle it. In the end, there were some tears. Somehow seeing Mama’s name on her grave marker, carved in stone, made the theoretical all too real. I know on an intellectual level that Mama is dead. But some primal, deep seated part of me refuses to accept it. It’s been just over two months since she died, and every time the phone rings in the evening I think, for just a second, that it might be Mama calling. Then I remember.
I’m grateful for this marker in so many ways. Our finances are not in the best shape right now, so I reached out to family to help get this done. Mama’s marker represents a coalition of the willing, and would not have been possible without the help of my aunt, Martha Sue Rhea, and my cousin Joe Rhea (Sue’s son, who took the picture of Mama’s marker for me), and my cousin Vickie Chaney Jones (Jack’s daughter) and her husband, Pat. It’s a special blessing to me these family members stepped up to help. It ate away at me that Mama’s grave didn’t have a marker, and I don’t know how long it would have been before it had one if Victoria and I had gone it alone. Thankfully, my wonderful family stepped up and helped us get it done. They all have my eternal gratitude.
Now I have to face the reality that Mama really is gone. That’s something I struggle with daily. There’s no road-map for dealing with something like this. We all have to find our own way through it, and we all have to face it sooner or later. Somehow seeing Mama’s marker is surreal to me. It’s like seeing her named engraved on a card or written down in a journal. It doesn’t translate into a reality. Sometimes I think maybe that won’t translate until I’m back in Kings Mountain, kneeling beside her grave, and can actually touch the granite of her grave marker. Maybe then it will seem real.
Anyway, this is a step forward, I think. If I struggle with anything, it’s just that this is something I had to do a lot sooner than I expected to. I miss my Mama. But at least now there’s something to mark her final resting. I’ll work out the details on how I feel about that later. And hopefully, in some small way, this honors Mama.