I sit here in our car as Keith and I are driving to DeKalb one last time before we move to Kentucky. I have nothing to write on at the moment so I took some brown napkins from my glove compartment to use instead (I guess they’re not just for wiping your hands off after all).
Many things are happening right now in our lives. Many good-byes.
The other day we attended our last Parent-only grief group. It was definitely bitter-sweet. I can say without hesitation that this group is beyond special. It’s a group of people who come together twice a month and yet all of us would agree that we wish we would’ve never met. Just like one of our pastors from our church in DeKalb had said at MarMar’s funeral, we are all now part of a very unique club. A club no one in their right mind would ever want to or voluntarily join yet every last one of us has been initiated into it kicking and screaming. The club is for those of us who are parents who’ve lost a child. So I’m sure you now understand why I say that everyone in our grief group wishes we’d never met because that means the child we were caring for and raising would still be alive and here.
However, because we were all thrust into this unbelievable nightmare we all live every day, I can also say how unbelievably grateful we all are to have each other as every last one of us understands how deep and lasting the pain truly goes.
This past Thursday night was our last group meeting before we leave for Kentucky. They had a very special ceremony in honor of our last time attending called a Rock Ceremony. In the room we meet in there was a coffee table with some flat, smooth stones laying there. I supposed they represented the ceremony we were getting ready to go through.
We had our normal group time. I always love this time because we all can talk about whatever is on our mind. It’s a safe place to open up. That time obviously was shortened due to the ceremony but it was still nice.
Then we nicely transitioned into the ceremony. One of the people who leads the group started by talking about two stones, one each in a small, dark blue velour type draw sting bag. There were two bags, one for Keith and one for myself. She told us one stone was rough. It signifies how the loss of our child is one of the worst things to have occurred in our lives. It has been a rough and jagged time getting through since she died. The other stone was a smooth stone. Smooth stones are formed from places like river beds where year after year the water slowly but surely works on that rough rock to where one day it becomes smooth. It represents how the journey slowly but surely gets easier as time goes by and the hurt slowly heals to where we eventually, for the most part, are okay. So these stones thus symbolize our journey with the loss of Mari. No, we’ll never forget and we’ll still have those bad moments or days for the rest of our lives. However, it shows how our journey will eventually become smooth like the second stone.
Then she handed the two small bags off to the first person on her left and then the bags continued around to everyone in the room. Each time one of the people in the group had them they would say what Keith and I attending the group had meant to him or her.
I’ll tell you this was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever been through in my life. I don’t know about most people out there but to sit there and have people say some pretty wonderful things about you and your spouse is an unbelievable experience.
Some talked about Keith. They would talk about how even though he didn’t talk that much, he was a quiet, gentle presence. He was honest with everyone and they could see how much he loved and cared about me. They could see the love he truly had for Mari and how it exuded from the inside out.
When some of them talked about me, they said thank you for my honestly. They talked about how I was very open about everything no matter how good or bad. I easily showed my emotions and was so honest with how I talked about everything. Some talked about how through my stories or me just talking that they felt like they were able to somewhat get to know Mari even though she is now gone.
Some also talked about my writing. I don’t know if most people truly know or even understand that I’ve never thought I was a good writer. I only started really writing when Mari got sick and I started her Care Page. These people talked about how much they love what I’ve been writing on Mari’s site. For some it touched their hearts so deeply. Others it helped them to get to know Mari a little more. For others they could feel the raw emotion in my writing. And still others felt the honesty in my writing by letting people in my world. I felt so touched by what everyone said and in how we have truly touched everyone’s lives there. I will really miss our group.
After everyone was done, Keith and I got to tell everyone what attending has meant to us and how all of them have truly touched our lives in such a profound way. Then we got to go to that coffee table and pick out one of the stones to take home with us. What is neat about these smooth stones is that each one had a word on it. The one I chose said Believe. Keith’s said Strength.
Overall the night was just so special and one I won’t soon forget.