Tuesday, September 15, 2009

set in stone

Dear Brian,

A few weeks ago, I was having an especially hard day. So many things reminded me of you and your absence was nearly unbearable. I won't recap the day because it is in the past. One thing that I did do that day, as I was aching for you, was to stop at the cemetery to see your grave.

I had ordered your headstone in June when I finally felt up to doing it. In July, I received a printed copy of what the stone was expected to look like. I had not received anything stating that the stone had arrived or was in. That day I went to visit your grave, it was in. Judging from the amount of grass seedlings that had sprouted around it at the time, I would venture to say it hadn't been in for much more than a week.

I am not a huge cemetery person. I don't visit my grandparents' graves or my aunts' and cousin's graves. Yet, there is something soothing about having a quiet place to go and remember you. A place to see your name.

At least it is now.

I had no idea how much seeing your name in stone would impact me. I spiraled that entire day and for much of that week. I was at wit's end with the kids. I cried all the time. Everything was hurting my feelings. I felt excluded and lonely and awkward in just about every social situation, including familiar settings. You are missing and as much as I thought I was doing okay, seeing that stone knocked the wind out of me for a while.

I was lamenting to the kids' counselor that week about the issues I was having with the kids and how I felt so inadequate to handle them as I was so sad myself. I was just constantly weepy. I explained about this issue and that issue and this concern and that concern and then seeing the tombstone the other day... At which point in time he interrupted me and said, " Did you just say you saw the tombstone for the first time a few days ago?" Yes. "Well, you need to understand that is a whole new step of the grieving process. It opens old wounds. It can cause fresh ones. It is a very significant event seeing your loved one's name staring back at you from the ground."

THAT gave me freedom to regress. From that moment on, I felt normal again for feeling the way I did. I realized that reliving those last few days of your life in my head was not some sort of sado-masochist self-torture, but rather an opening of some old wounds. I began to heal again.

Last week, the perpetual candle and flower stand was placed at your site, too. Ed and Jan had visited and told me it was ready to be lit and asked how I wanted to handle it. I decided to take the boys, add some flowers to what your parents had placed and have one of them light the candle.

We went last Wednesday. I didn't know how they would handle it. I didn't know if it would stir in them the same emotions it did for me. So, I approaced it with gentleness, caution and preparedness.
So prepared, that I forgot the lighter. We had to walk over to the office, borrow a lighter and return it when were finished. Just another example of how NOTHING in my life seems to go smoothly.

The boys did great. Gavin lit the candle much to Grant's chagrin. Sometimes, I have to just let Gavin be the older one. Grant compensated by taking random pictures with the camera. Instead of pitying ourselves realizing this is how MY 6 and 7 year old spent a mild September after-school afternoon, I am beginning to embrace that this is a part of our lives now. I can only pray that events like these will give our boys a greater appreciation for life thus developing within them a strong character.

Grant took these two shots:

your sitejust a few yards away is this statue

The kids seemed fine, but because I knew how this could affect them, after we prayed for protection and guidance from Christ, after we prayed for peace and happiness to fill our lives since we all have holes in our hearts for Daddy, I gave them both one of these:
your favorite WHITE CHOCOLATE Toblerone. Gotta be white.
I wanted them to have a fond ending memory of this experience and something to take home that reminded them of you. Something fun. Something to make them smile. Something that I can only find at one place in all of Peoria.
I love and miss you, Brian.



  1. I am praying for you. I pray for peace, understanding, healing, happiness. Your openness and sharing astounds me and touches me in so many ways and I thank you for that.

  2. God is giving you such wisdom, Angie. They things you come up with HAVE to be straight from heaven. I love you!


  3. I have never thought of seeing a headstone for the first time having that affect but it makes perfect sense. I am so glad you had some one to talk to that could help you understand that feeling.

    It sounds like you are handling this as well as can be, I am sure it doesn't feel that way though.

    Still praying for you and your boys!

  4. You are breaking my heart lady. But I understand on a different level. That first time seeing my moms headstone was an emotional outburst of total sorrow. I couldn't breathe. I always assumed it was because I was just a teenager, but being older, I realize it was a step forward. Not a step back. You are getting through this. Day by day. And all us strangers are praying for you and watching you grow each time you write. We have grown to love you like you were sitting on our own couch talking to us.

  5. Wow. This is beautiful. I don't know you well, but I'm very proud of you. And the boys, despite their huge loss of their dad, look very happy. It seems you're walking through this with excellence. I'm praying for continued healing. Keep Believing. I love that.

  6. You may have forgotten the lighter Angie, but I think you prepared yourself and your boys in far more ways for that day. Thinking ahead to have the chocolate bars - that is awesome!! A lighter is small compared to all the *extra* things you did and continue doing! You are a strong woman and I see God walking right next to you!!

  7. Angie, Did you know that today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows? (Mater Dolorosa)
    That Pieta that Grant Photographed was a PERFECT moment. The Lord will uphold you and May the Blessed Mother...Our Lady of Sorrows... hold you close to her Immaculate Heart.
    Pax Christi, Elizabeth

  8. Angie....what a major step for all of you. The toblerone was such a great idea - totally made me cry. Praying that you all conitinue to fiil those holes for Daddy with happiness. You are so amazing Angie!!

  9. Still praying for you and the boys.


  10. Bittersweet, huh? Quite literally. I love your writing and your heart. It opened something in me just to see a photo of Brain's name set it stone, and here I am, someone so far away, and yet following your words every step of the way. Your words and Grant's photos are so powerful.

  11. Sweet Angie,

    Sending you love from afar. Praying for you, my dear sister. This was a heartbreaking post to read. Love you, Shawn from TN

  12. Angie, I hope it doesn't piss you off when I relate my experiences to you. I know that they are not parallel at all.

    I took Lindy to visit Angel's grave in the months following her death, and we'd place fresh flowers on her grave, only to go home and bawl for the rest of the day. I had thoughts of guilt that my kids were visiting a cemetery instead of a playground.

    I waited with the hope that grief would grow sweeter with time. Indeed, it has.

  13. This is what happens when you follow your instincts. Somehow you make it work. Sending blessings your way.

  14. Through all your daily pain you still encourage. To the one who knows too well the trials others are facing better than most, thanks.

  15. Thank you for sharing this story with us. I continue to pray for your family and respect your situation immensely. YOu are so strong and I am so grateful God is still carrying you.
    Sugar in New Orleans

  16. You should be proud of how far you have come...even if you don't realize it. I love how you finshed the outing, to the cemetary ,on a happy, positive note. You could have have done the opposite but YOU choice the latter. That in itself should prove to you that you are moving forward. Keep up the great work!

  17. Through all of your pain and doubt, it is so amazing to see how wise you are. Your children are so lucky to have such strength in their lives.

  18. just caught up on a month of your life. you still make me cry and smile, sometimes even in the same sentence. thank you. sending you good thoughts and prayers. ben

  19. I am literally crying seeing that the stone also includes "Keep Believing". Even in death, Brian will inspire those that read those words. I wonder what the person thought of when they were carved. I've often been to cemetaries and glanced at other stones and what they said. This is amazing. And your boys look happy. Maybe having a place to go to is helpful for them too.

  20. I've been reading your blog for sometime now but never commented. I admire your strength and the way you pull through the tough times. Good Luck in your healing process. Im sure its a process that never ends but will get better. Enjoy your sweet boys!

  21. Angie,

    I have been reading along in the reader, and I want you to know that I think you are doing an amazing job with your decisions. The way that you are still so amazing and giving to the boys. Making sure that they are taken care of in the best of ways. To be honest, there is no way I could imagine how tired and stressed you are.

    Hang in there. I'm not going to say it is going to get easier. Just praying that God will continue to give you what you need to make it through each day. Sending both prayers and hugs your way.


  22. Hey Angie,
    I don't know what to say but I think of you and pray for you every day.

    Miss you,