Saturday, January 15, 2011

Visiting the Cemetery and Lunch at The Green Iguana

This would be the third year I planned to visit the cemetery where Leif is inurned on his birthday, January 28th, but it is a long drive from our home and we were at another event within a few minutes drive of it today, so we went early. It's so terribly sad to think that his 36th birthday will be in 13 days, but he won't be here to celebrate it. When I go to the cemetery, all I can do is put my hands on the granite stone on the face of the niche that holds his cremains and cry, and wish with all my heart that he were not there, but alive and with us. It is still so hard for me to believe that all that's left of him is half the size or less of the baby who was born to me.

It struck me as we drove to the cemetery from the north this time, crossing Ulmerton Road, how close we were to the first place we stayed the first time we visited the Tampa Bay area, 13.1 miles by car, but more like nine miles as the crow flies. How happy he was in this bay area the first time we came, exultant, as he rented that white Mustang convertible and drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, glorying in the view of the bay and the Gulf, the sparkling water and sun. As we stood there beside the columabarium, Peter W. talked about how we wanted to bring him here for a new start, a new hope. How little could we guess that a few short years later he would be here in this cemetery, only nine miles from were we were staying.

We don't stay long at the cemetery. As I told Peter, I could stay there all afternoon and cry for his loss, but I realize that isn't healthy for either of us, and as Peter says, Leif doesn't know we are there. I remarked that some people would think he knows. I wish I could think so, or that it would make a difference if he did. But if there is anything left of him in existence somewhere, surely he knows how much we love him, and surely he can see that we talk about him every day, look at his photos, think of him. Surely this blog is more of a memorial to him than hours in the cemetery.

Yet it does mean something to me to go there, to touch that stone, no matter how sad a moment it is. I'm usually not there more than five or ten minutes. After that time, I decide I need to get ahold of myself, stop the tears, and try to be happy, to try to be normal, and most of the time, I succeed.

That, going on with life, is one of the reasons we try to combine a visit to the cemetery with something positive and fun to do on the same trip in that direction. Today it was a rock and gem show in Largo, which we both enjoyed. After visiting Leif's niche, we went to lunch at the closest restaurant, The Green Iguana, and ate out on the deck overlooking the water, though the day had turned gray and chilly. We enjoyed the food and the view, and talked about how we would love to have taken Leif there, that it was the kind of place he would have enjoyed, with live music and good beer (which we didn't order).

It would have been so good to treat him, to enjoy a lively political conversation. He would have plenty to say about current affairs. I would have been especially interested to hear his viewpoints about the shooting tragedy in Tucson.

So we enjoyed lunch, thinking and talking about Leif, and then we did some shopping before heading home and to a performance about Mark Twain. It was a full day, and Leif was a part of it all, and he will always be a part of our lives, no matter how many years it has been since he was alive and with us.

The photo of the Green Iguana sign was indoors and in low light. I took the photos with my cell phone and Peter turned just as I took the photo. I find myself wondering whether Leif ever ate there. If he did, I hope he had a good time.

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