IF I HAD KNOWN THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW
It is the day after Easter, and I am sitting at the dining room table sipping a cup of hot tea, thinking about the holiday weekend. Easter Sunday was everything I had hoped. Celebrating the resurrection of Christ, then spending the afternoon with my family around a table laden with delicious food, memories, laughter, and enjoying the precious commodity of time. Over the years, I thought how wonderful it would be if the walls could absorb the laughter, then exhale the warmth filling my heart on difficult days.
However, the story actually began two days before Easter. It was a sunny, warm Friday. My husband and I went to the flower tent and bought four Easter plants; three to be placed on the cemeteries, and one to sit next to my sister’s picture.
As Rick drove, I began thinking about how much I loved and missed my family members in Heaven. It is amazing how memories can flash through your mind like scenes from a movie. The four miles to the first cemetery brought back conversations with my first husband, learning sign language to surprise my mother-in-law with a tribute, and the hearty laugh of my father-in-law. As Rick pulled into the cemetery, I thought about how much I missed their voices, touching their hands, hugging them and looking into their eyes as we spoke.
Rick carried each flower, as I stood in front of the first headstone where my late husband was laid to rest. Although he passed over twenty-four years ago, I still love him very much. I believe he sent my husband, Rick to me.
The memories of raising our family, loving times, holidays, working hard and being there through thick and thin came rushing back. I told him how everyone is doing and how proud he would be of our family. I like to think of it as “catching up.” Then I looked up to heaven and blew a kiss, as Rick stood with his arm around my shoulders.
He waited for me by the car as I walked up to pay my respects to my in-laws who meant so much to me. I really loved them. Everything about them. As I stood before their headstone, I thought back to the times they shared dinner with us, and the picnics in their yards. They were good to me, and I was kind to them. They were also deaf. Standing there, I could feel their love circling around me.
Then we were off, to the next cemetery to visit my parents. As Rick drove, I thought back to the farm I grew up on, the tulips that Mom loved and my father’s love of animals and auctions. I thought about their good years and the years when their health started changing, leading to their deaths. Then as my husband pulled into the cemetery, driving slowly up and around, parking parallel to the headstone, I thought of their laughter and the happy times.
Walking up to the gravestone, I thought of the tears we shed when we said our final goodbyes, and how broken our hearts were. Placing the flower in the center, between their names, I could feel their arms around me, reminding me that everything would be okay. I miss them both so much that sometimes it takes my breath away.
Finally, we head for home where the last flower weighs heavy on my heart. We arrive, and I carry it into my house, not stopping until I reach her picture. It is a small flower, her favorite color purple, a sweet-smelling flower that reminds me of her. I placed the hyacinth next to my sister’s picture. As I stand their tears well up and flow down my cheeks for my younger sister, Emma who was loved beyond words. Her sudden death taught me not to take anyone or anything for granted. On that day when the purple flower stood tall, I remember the little girl, the teen, the wife, mother and grandmother, and sister. I thought about her family. I placed a kiss on her picture and wished her a Happy Easter.
That night while I was making dinner, I thought of all the things I wished I would have said to my loved ones. I wished I would have hugged them more, kissed them more, and told them I loved them more. If I had known then, what I know now, I would have spent more time with them, laughing and making many more memories. Memories to last a lifetime.
To my loved ones in Heaven, you are all the wind beneath my wings.