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When Cleaning My Son's Grave Reminded Me of His Bath Time

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This morning we visited my son, Tom, at the cemetery. There is such peace and beauty there, but even more so this weekend with many family members taking extra care to freshen up their loved ones’ final resting places. Tom’s headstone has been in place about 11 months, long enough to have hard water spots and a caking of dust and dirt, so it was definitely time to do some work on it.

We started with a quick washing off with water, followed by Windex brushed on to remove the more stubborn dirt. A final rinsing brought back the stone’s initial shine, at least for a bit. As we worked around each side of the stone, my broken heart flashed back to bath time in our tub when Tom was small. The process was the same. Rinse, scrub, rinse, repeat, until all of the little nooks and crannies of his baby and toddler body were refreshed for bedtime. In those moments of bath play and laughter, I would have never imagined he would not live to adulthood, nor that I would be spending a Sunday morning cleaning his headstone.

Tom died in March of 2015 — 26 months later, there are days I think I really have my shit together, others not so much. This week, I tried to close his savings account and ended up bawling in the bank line. The teller was sweet, but also unsure how to proceed. Thankfully, my husband was with me and reminded me we don’t ever have to close it. We still have Tom’s phone number activated so no one can use it, and his Netflix account still pops up in our menu. I cannot bring myself to erase these aspects of Tom from my life. I even joked with my husband about making our Alexa activation word “Tom,” so it would be like him working the magic of turning on and off the lights and the radios in our house. We kinda laughed about it, not doing it, but not altogether dismissing it either.

Finding the balance of celebrating his life without lollygagging there too long has been a challenge. Most days I think we are doing a pretty good job, although the last two weeks I seem to be more emotional for a reason I cannot pinpoint. Perhaps spending some time with him this morning, communing with his spirit by serving him as I once did, will bring me some needed peace.

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Thinkstock image by macrovector

Originally published: July 17, 2017
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