Saturday, 31 May 2014

It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I wonder?.

In those early days after the accident I used to feel restless and sad almost all the time and when Granddad’s grumbling got unendurable I would jump into my car and seek solace by sitting on a conveniently placed wooden bench just a few yards from where Mum and Dad were buried. I would just sit there – not crying - but feeling totally overwhelmed by all that had happened. It is probably a good thing that the cemetery wasn’t on a road that I would normally use because I would have found it too difficult to just drive past without stopping. It wasn’t on the direct route between Granddad’s house and my school or the shops so unless I chose to make a special trip I wouldn’t usually get within 400 yards of the cemetery gates.

For the first few months after the accident I used to visit their grave several times a week. It was about a year before the permanent granite headstone was put into position so in those early days all there was to mark the spot was a small wooden cross with an engraved brass tablet. The cemetery has a small car park at the entrance that rarely had more than a couple of council trucks in it. I would park my car there and I would then walk down the “Official Vehicles Only” path that ran the length of the site. The older graves were all near the entrance and it was rather creepy to walk past the rows of badly maintained stones inscribed “Gone but not forgotten”.

Just being near Mum and Dad was quite therapeutic. Sometimes it would only take a few minutes for me to calm down but my record time was well over an hour. The worst part of the visit was always walking away from the grave to go back to my car – it felt as if I was leaving them behind when all I really wanted to do was to be with them.

It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I'm not sure I agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never quite gone. As the months and years went by the frequency of my visits to the cemetery declined and it was quite a shock the first time I realised that I hadn’t visited the grave for a month!

Now – some 4 years after the accident – I am finally comfortable driving past the cemetery gates without pulling into the car park. As I pass by, providing I am on my own, I will always say something like, “Hello you two. I’m just off to Laura’s house to do some coursework.” or “I’ve got an athletics event today and I’m running a bit late.” If somebody else is with me in the car I have to make do with thinking the same message.

Perhaps one day I will need to move away from my current home town and my visits to their grave will become even less frequent. I am calm enough about that because I’m sure my Mum and Dad wouldn’t expect me to base my career plans on the proximity of my chosen place of work to the municipal cemetery where they “rest in peace”.

I like to think that a more sensible Sally has taken over. Mum and Dad are not in any cemetery: they are in every cell in my body and memories of them live on inside my head. They loved me far too much to want me to fill my life with sadness or regrets or thoughts of what might have been. They would have wanted me to live my life to the full spending time on my studies, my athletics and my modelling not sitting in a graveyard feeling sad.

1 comment:

  1. I feel your pain sister, my mother died when I was 12, and Dad when I was 35. No brothers or sisters. It hasn't been easey.