Looking back at what Brian's burial place (that sounds so much nicer and more respectful than "grave," doesn't it?) looked like before the headstone was installed and (finally) complete, I now feel that I even further appreciate the closure and peace that the headstone provides. (You can see the burial site with the temporary marker here: http://wendyrebuilding.blogspot.com/2010/06/brians-resting-place.html and the completed stone at the burial site here: http://wendyrebuilding.blogspot.com/2010/09/beautiful-tribute.html). I hadn't really done a side-to-side comparison before, and there was a long gap in time between cemetery visits so I hadn't really thought of how drastic the change was.
I guess I knew how much the stone would mean, and that's probably why I put it off as long as I did. As you might remember from my previous posts, I had a hard time facing this step in the process -- just seeing sample headstones caused uncontrollable tears, even months after Brian's death. I think a part of me knew that seeing the headstone with Brian's name and the date of his death (complete with date of birth, so there was no mistaking that this was the same Brian Boka I was married to) would help end the denial part of the grief process. And I wasn't ready to face reality -- I needed that denial to last a little longer.
What "denial Wendy" didn't know, or couldn't appreciate, was the healing that comes with closure and acceptance. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not "over" Brian's death, not by any means. It's something that will always cause me pain, confusion, and anger. I will always be defined and shaped by having experienced this. But I don't think I'm in denial anymore. I am finally coming to terms with the fact that he is gone, that he no longer exists in human form on this earth.
Reading that last line makes me cry because it seems like such a basic thing to understand, but it's taken me this long to get here. What is one small step for logic is one giant leap in the grieving process. At least I hope I've made a giant leap. In any event, the credo remains: One day at a time.
I think it is a giant leap to acknowledge that Brian is in my past. He was, of course, a big part of my past -- the most important person in my life -- but, nonetheless, that time is over. His influence has shaped who I am and what I am going to do -- more so probably than anyone else in my life -- but he does not exist in my future. I am incredibly sad about this, and it wasn't what I wanted or imagined for my future, but it is where I am. And I'm finally understanding and accepting this. Not necessarily liking it, but accepting it.