Death certificates and headstones. They feel very final. But, I believe a beginning always follows an end.
I picked up the copies of my mom’s Certificate Of Death today. I had never seen one before. It is a surreal thing to read when it belongs to someone you love. It’s so clinical, with its check boxes, stamps, seals, and signatures. One box for the Date of Birth. One box for the Date of Death. It says nothing about the rich, full life she lived between those boxes.
I also purchased my mom’s headstone today. As I sat thumbing through the choices of engravings to accompany her name (I chose tulips, my mom loved tulips), choosing the style of the words, the color of the stone, what I wanted it to say at the top (I went with Mom, Mother seemed too formal for how close we were) I was doing fine. You make decisions when you need to make decisions. Then the woman left to process my payment and I sat there looking at the sheet of paper where she had mapped out what the stone would look like. There was my mom’s name with her birth and death date staring me in the face, and it hit me again. I can’t believe I’m picking out a headstone for my mom. By the time the woman returned, I was wiping away tears as I signed all the forms. Pleased with my choices, but still practically disbelieving I was making them. Six months ago my biggest problem in life was that due to an energy saving campaign at work, people kept accidentally shutting the lights off as they left the restroom while I was still in there. Now six months later I’m sitting in the office of a cemetery picking out a headstone for my mom.
I also washed my car today. As I stood in the car wash stall watching the gray, hazy grime slide off the hood to reveal the shiny black paint underneath, I realized how lucky I am to have been blessed with a very optimistic outlook on life. My life as I have known it for the last 36 years has ended. My life going forward will never be the same. It won’t be better. It won’t be worse. It will just be different. Different in ways I’m not even aware of yet. But it stretches out before me like the upcoming weekend stretches out before me on this beautiful Friday night. As people are leaving work Friday afternoon everyone you pass in the hall asks if you have big plans for the weekend. I’m always pleased to answer “Nope, nothing big.” I don’t want to have big plans right now. No plans, no schedules, only possibilities. I just want to get out of bed on Saturday morning and see where the day takes me. Because when you wash off the haze of gray, you just might find a shiny new life underneath.