I am embarrassed to admit it…even to all of you. I just finalized the order for the cemetery marker a few weeks ago.
I didn’t realize it until now how grueling the last 19 months have been thinking about it, researching it, completing it.
But it is really beautiful. It is a large piece of gleaming bronze mounted on warm, slightly-pink marble with photos of us etched in it. A beautiful phrase, precise dates, full names, all presented in a graceful font.
I have been carrying that paper around in my purse…that all-important order. A paper that contained the details…photos, full names, dates, a phrase to sum up the two of us…just waiting for my signature. Just waiting to be dropped off at the place that would set the wheels of manufacture in motion. The manufacture of finality.
I would run into it as I dug around in my purse, as women will do…looking for the car keys, the wallet, the chewing gum, my mind.
I would brush my fingers down the side. I would take it out and hold the envelope in my hands and stare at it as I sat in the car parked at the grocery store or in my driveway. But I didn’t turn it in for a long, long time.
How long? Try 4 months…maybe a little longer.
I have been mentally chewing on this…this hesitation with the marker order…and as I sat down to write today, I realize I’ve been filled with a sense of shame. Shame that I didn’t get this done sooner. Shame that I am not as quick as I used to be, more sure of myself. That I no longer know my own opinion about something so important…so scattered. So scared.
And a feeling that I’ve wronged Rick somehow…that sits like a stone in my stomach as well. That I have wronged him in not honoring his final earthly resting place with a permanent, meaningful sign in a more timely manner.
I realize, too, that I have held deep within me a sense of dread. The placement of this piece of gleaming etched bronze, mounted on a slab of warm, slightly-pink marble, is another monumentally sad event (no pun intended). Another blow to my heart…only this one is self-inflicted. Necessary, but self-inflicted. Afterall, I am scheduling this blow. I planned it…every word, every photo, every date…the color, the size, the substantial cost.
It is another physical reminder that I will never see Rick again on this side of life…and that could be a very, very long time indeed…and I am specifying every detail of it. In gleaming bronze. Mounted on warm, slightly-pink marble. Deliberately.
But, I have to give Rick some responsibility here…responsibility for the difficulty of this unwanted duty of mine.
He is…exceptional…an exceptional human being. That is my Rick. Now, how do you capture that with a set number of characters? What pictures do you use to sum the factors of an exceptional human being…an exceptional life? Moreover, since it is a double marker…what the hell do I say…about myself? What photos do I use? What words describe a Hornet?
Hence, the great delay. Hence, the fretting over hundreds of pictures, dozens and dozens of captions, colors, placement, fonts, blah, blah, blah.
But…now it is done. The decisions are made. The order is placed. (I am expecting the call about the final placement in early May.)
I am left with two great hopes…
The hope that I have done him justice. Rick certainly earned that.
And, the hope that, when the steps are complete…when the earth is moved out of its natural place and this man-made thing is placed there, that anyone who walks by and glances down will see…
A large piece of gleaming bronze mounted on warm, slightly-pink marble with photos of us etched in it...
The wonderful face of a man smiling up at them…
A beautiful phrase, precise dates, full names, all presented in a graceful font…
And they will think to themselves…
“This is an exceptional man…a man who is loved.”