Sunset Memorial Cemetery, Chester VA. January 2009
As I was leaving Enon after my winter 2009 visit to see my parents, I became compelled to drive by the cemetery where other relatives are buried and where Mama and Daddy bought plots. It was just after dawn. I walked out to the stone that is shared with cousins and photographed it and the neighboring stones where my grandparents and numerous uncles and aunts are placed.
It was bitter cold. The sun was just coming up giving the frost covered ground had a crystalline appearance in places.
I stared at the plots and thought to myself, one day they will be here. The idea was so abstract, so unbelievable… I simply couldn't wrap my head around it. I just wasn't real to me in any way.
In hindsight I knew things were getting rough, and were likely to get worse very soon. I was determined to hang on to my life out in California.
Had I not been so paralyzed by the situation, the decades of her reminding over and over how disappointed she was (and I read: in me), had her expectations not been so high, had I not become so absorbed in staying away, I might have seen that this was the point that I should have started to prepare myself to come back to help. I didn't think I could stand it.
I can't help but think how, if I had been able to see past all this, if the relationship hadn't been so stagnant from the stress of mental illness, I would have wanted to be there for them.
It's hard to remember the blunt force of her constant fury now. I never thought anything would dull that.
At the time I was convinced she would live forever, that perhaps I was trapped in some weird continuum with her.
I knew that Daddy would go first. He was already so exhausted. He refused help if asked, but that was his generation. Had I insisted he would have accepted help and been proud that I offered, and would have gone along with it.
I didn't though.
An obvious foreshadowing, yet I kept my back turned.
I still feel that chill.