Sand and Stone

Kim’s grave is still so new that you can see the cut around the patch of grass they removed and replaced when they dug the hole.

Like a golf digit that hasn’t healed yet.

Last week the woman from the cemetery called to remind me we need to order a stone.

I know.

I remember how final and official it was when we saw Elena’s stone.

It was beautiful but Kim and I looked at it and thought, “I guess she’s not coming back then.”

It’s not that we didn’t know she was dead but we hadn’t gotten to the point where we understood that that was a permanent condition.

So I haven’t ordered Kim’s stone yet.

I will.

The cut in the grass is starting to heal, When it does we can find Kim’s grave by looking just to the left of Elena’s – but she deserves more.

One of Kim’s friends came over for coffee yesterday. She’d had a vivid dream about Kim.

She said, “I don’t know what dreams mean to you.”

I said, “it’s what they mean to you.”

I love that some part of her felt strongly enough to allow a memory of Kim in and to allow it to tell her a new story about the two of them. I love that so many other people keep Kim alive through these memories.

You can’t put that on a stone.

A stone is just a prompt.

It’s like reading the names of the dead in a service. The names don’t carry much but they may prompt a memory or a musing.

I told Kim’s friend about someone who had reached out to me recently. I didn’t recognize their name so I looked at their photos.

Kim’s friend smiled.

“What?” I asked.

“That’s called ‘creeping’, ” she said.

Then I was creeping.

But as soon as I saw a picture of the person who reached out I knew who they were and was glad to have heard from them.

I’m not good with names. A name isn’t enough. It’s a prompt but I usually remember so many details about you but forget your name.

That’s not good.

The most important words to anyone is their name.

I remember images. I remember stories. I remember actions. I remember emotions.

I’m not good with names.

I was “creeping” the other day and saw a picture that I loved as a monument – it was something you can’t capture in stone.

It started with a picture that a friend posted two pictures. One was of her husband and her mother. I knew Chuck, her husband, for thirty years. Actually, I’d heard stories of her from Chuck for those thirty years and only met her in the last days of his life. She was all that he had described.

The picture was of Chuck when he was in his twenties giving her mom a kiss on the cheek. They are both gone now. The picture was a wonderful monument to the two of them. She’s probably older now than her mom was in that picture.

There are people who engrave pictures on their tombstones – it’s just not something I feel comfortable doing – but I can see where it captures them in a moment.

I loved that picture of her husband and her mom. I’d never met the mom and it was a picture of Chuck when he wasn’t yet the man I’d meet.

To be clear, that wasn’t “creeping”. I was looking at a picture she posted publicly. She invited us to join her in this memory and to bring our own memories.

The second picture she posted was of  a walk she had taken with friends.

Below it was a second picture of the walk that one of her friends had posted. It was the same path but three shadows walked in front of them.

No people in the picture. Just their shadows.

Such a great picture.

This is when I began “creeping”.

I clicked on the link to go to the page of the person who had taken the picture and looked at some of her other pictures.

One of her pictures was of a book that Chuck had written and autographed.

He’d taken time to explore his dream of writing mysteries and had written six books.

He sent me drafts  from time to time and then we’d meet and talk about them.

He’d mention some of his other readers and what they thought of this and that.

Maybe he mentioned this woman.

I don’t know. I’m not good with names.

I do know that it made me smile to see this autographed picture of one of his title pages.

She recently posted a new profile picture. It turned out that it was a picture that Chuck had taken at an Indians game.

This “creeping” hadn’t connected me to this person I didn’t know – it had connected me to my friend two years after his death.

There was one more picture I spent time with before clicking to close the page.

It was on a beach somewhere. There was a heart carved deeply into the wet sand. A red flower lay in the upper right of the heart and a shallow wave covered the top little rounded parts.

I have no idea what the heart was for.

It reminded me of a poetry writing seminar I took in college. We each had to analyze each other’s poems. When it was my turn I remember people explaining what the poet must have meant. I thought, “I didn’t mean any of that.”

And yet.

That’s what my poem meant to them. Their reading of the poem included their thoughts on what my intent was. It took me many years to understand that that’s ok.

So I don’t know what the picture of the heart was for.

I don’t know if she drew it or if she just came upon it and photographed it.

I don’t know if it was just a doodle or if it had deeper meaning.

It could have been about a new love, an old love, or a former love.

I think it was about someone who died.

I think it was about Kim.

“That’s silly,” you say, “she didn’t even know Kim.”

In my reading of the story, she did.

Kim loved the water.

She loved taking of her sandals and walking along the sand next to the water and then wading in.

She loved standing there looking out as far as she could see – to where the water touched the sky.

I loved watching her.

I loved standing beside her.

The heart with the flower was for Kim.

The water was just beginning to blur the top part of the heart.

It’s like when you’re a kid and you build a sand castle and you build it close enough to the water so there can be a moat.

And then the tide comes in and starts to erode your castle. There are those first few moments where you fight against the inevitable and try to save what you’ve built but you know you can’t.

And then you watch it go.

There’s always the story of what happened before the picture and what happened after.

I can’t know what happened before.

Someone, maybe the photographer, carved a heart and placed a flower for some unknown reason.

I can’t really know what happened after.

I assume the water continued to lap at the heart and crawl it’s way toward the pointy end. The sand shifted and the design was erased. The flower floated up at some point and was carried off to sea.

At some point there’s no evidence that the heart ever existed outside of this picture.

Thank goodness she captured this picture. This monument to a moment.

At some point the grass around Kim’s grave will heal.

I need to order a stone.


Published in: on April 30, 2017 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  

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