On Saturday, I took Daniel for a long driving lesson – two hours. It was a beautiful day and we covered a huge area. About half way through the lesson, we found ourselves driving down a main road that would take us past the cemetery. To date, Daniel hasn’t been there and I felt the need to change that – to break the ice, so to speak. Besides, I had some information I wanted to tell him and the cemetery would be the ideal place to do so.
I felt a little nervous asking him if it was OK if we went to the cemetery. I guess I didn’t want to hear him say that he didn’t want to go, but I didn’t have to worry about that. He looked a bit shocked, but he agreed.
As I said, it was a lovely day. The sun was quite warm, the sky a gorgeous blue and cloudless. Daniel drove slowly up the drive and asked where I wanted him to park. Moments later, we left the car and I guided Daniel towards Barry’s eternal resting place. I didn’t have to point out Barry’s niche, Daniel saw the words “Barry Andrew Henderson” as we approached and his gaze locked onto the plaque. My gaze locked onto Daniel’s face.
I saw the mixed emotions wash over him. He said nothing, but continued to stare at the plaque as we drew nearer and then he read the verse I had chosen. I didn’t want Daniel to get upset. I didn’t want to see a tear roll down his cheek. So I started talking. I told Daniel that someone had visited Barry because a flower had been added to the little vase which holds our flowers. I told Daniel why I had chosen a spot high up on the wall (to avoid vandalism). I talked about the location of the bench and the ability to sit quietly and look at the plague and talk to Barry if we ever felt the need. I talked about the view and how quiet the cemetery always was.
I could see that Daniel’s features had relaxed, so I then decided it was time to tell him the other news that is important for him to know. I pointed to the empty niche directly beside Barry’s and said, “Daniel, I own that spot and should anything happen to me, no matter where I am at the time, I want you to bring me back here and place me beside Barry.”
Daniel’s gaze went from Barry’s niche, to my face and then to the place I will end up. I saw the unspoken thoughts run through his mind. I know he didn’t want to hear those words, but it’s important he knows what arrangements I’ve made. I let him digest the information and then I added, “And if Gary and I are to go at the same time, Gary has purchased the niche beside mine.”
There…I had told him. It wasn’t easy, but it needed to be done. Gary has told his son and I have told mine. Family generally don’t want to hear about these things as death is something we don’t want to think about. And no matter what we know deep inside our hearts, we believe our parents, our siblings, and especially our children, will be around forever. But we are all going to die and when we want something specific to happen to our remains, we have to tell those closest to us so that they know and they can carry out our wishes.
I was relieved when I saw Daniel accept my words and visibly relax. He then started to ask me questions about niches and the cemetery. We chatted easily for a few minutes as we walked around, then I whispered goodbye to Barry and we continued the driving lesson.