It started the day before when we started on our journey down to Ohio to see family for a Christmas gathering. There have been many reasons that the past few years we haven't been able to make it. My husband works for the Detroit Auto Show and work is always abundant this time of year. Sometimes it's the weather or illness that doesn't allow us to make it. This time there was no excuse. The skies were bright and sunny with a chill in the air. Yes, we were late leaving and getting on the road but when you're driving at least four hours and it's an overnight trip, you're bound to get out slowly.
We were on the way and the part of Ohio where we are going to is kind of in the middle of nowhere. I don't remember driving on all of these back roads and two lane highways. I get anxious and I ask my husband to get to an interstate and he does and we end up out of the way making the trip take longer than necessary but I am happy when he obliges my request to stop at Chick Fil A. We don't have any of these in Michigan and knowing that they are closed on Sunday, I really wanted to stop for a quick bite. I call them morsels from Heaven and I am hoping that the family waiting for us understands the need to stop.
Of course we get to the celebration late and everyone is waiting on us to exchange gifts. If you're reading this, I hope you forgive our tardiness. You see, I was kind of dreading the trip there since it is where my mom is buried and this is the first time back in 10 years since we buried her there. I am happy to see my family but delaying the trip somehow made it easier on me.
We have a great time seeing everyone and exchanging gifts and laughing and catching up. Life here is so different than our life at home. On the way, we saw a car and tractor dealership with 4 cars in the lot. It's not all like that, but it's a different way of life than ours. It's simpler and people live on farms and there are a lot of factories and things like that. There's also a lot of Amish around here. We don't even have cell service here. I understand why my mom wanted to be buried here since all of our family is here but I still wish she were by me.
We checked into the hotel and then decided to go for dinner. The local supermarket Buehlers has a restaurant in it called The Mill. My cousin's friend used to manage it. Everyone knows everyone in these small towns. We get to the restaurant and I have a mini meltdown. The time is finally here to visit the grave. It's right down the street but it is dark so we have to wait until tomorrow. I can't believe I am here and it's this close. The anticipation is killing me and I am anxious and afraid to go. She isn't there in the grave- I know that but I also feel like I need some closure since it's been 10 years.
We are sitting there at the table and my aunt and uncle show up. I don't need to explain the tears and she doesn't ask. I love that about my aunt. She has always been someone who I have admired and looked to for advice. She tells me I don't have to go if I don't want to and I say yes I do. That settles it.
We get up for breakfast after a restless night and meet them downstairs. She asks what we are going to do and I say go to the cemetery and then head home. She doesn't question me or ask if I want company. They tell us good bye and we are on our way.
It's raining out and it's not a great day to be in a cemetery. It's wet and muddy and just gross. We get there and drive to where we remember the grave being. It's not there. We proceed to drive around the cemetery for an hour and a half looking for my mom's grave. By this time, I am so irritated and upset that I start crying. Why can't I even get this right? It's the one thing I came here to do and I can't even find it! Mom! Why are you doing this to me? I look down at my phone to place a call and I see searching...no service. Ugh! We keep driving around searching for it. I might add that it's Sunday so the office is closed and no one is around to help us. My husband and I both get out and are walking through the graves in the rain looking for it. I remember it's by the road and I can see the soybean factory and the smoke. He remembers it's by a big tree. No luck. I say Mom send me a sign! Help me find you!
We decide to go back over to Buehlers and use the wi-fi( this works on the phone) to see if it's on the internet somewhere. We are in the parking lot and I am searching my phone trying to hold back the tears when I see a car pull up beside us. It's my cousin and his wife! They roll down the window and my husband asks him if he knows where the grave is. He says follow me back to the cemetery. Sometimes the most important calls that you make aren't with a phone.
We drive in and he makes the same turns as we did before. He stops and gets out and sure enough, it's not where we thought it was. Barb, my cousin's wife, calls my aunt and asks her if she can help us. Ronnie finds it and waves us over.
There's the headstone- just like it looked in the sketch that the monument man sent to me 10 years ago. We stop and stare. There are no words that can be spoken. There is peace. My son stands next to me who never got to meet her. He asks about it and hugs me. I think he almost started to cry. I shed a few tears- tears of joy, tears of peace, tears of frustration. My mom always making me wait for her! My mom always helping me and sending me that sign- my cousin!
With peace and love and joy, we headed back out on the road towards home. With a grateful heart and the feeling of closure, I look at the photo and tell my husband next time, we will clean the grave so it's shinier. Next time, we will know where it is. There will be a next time.
Here are a few pictures highlighting our trip. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading and following along with me.