This will be the third Christmas I will spend without the love of my life, my nonno, my grandfather.

I went with my mother to lay a pine bough blanket on his grave today. We dusted off the gravestone and cleared fallen leaves away from the tiny garden that sits at it’s base, and from which tulips and daffodils grow in spring. The wind chime that we set there three years ago tinkled frantically in a stiff breeze and it caused me to shiver, failing to provide the tranquility that was our intention in placing it there.

"It looks lovely," my mother sighed as we set the blanket in place. I agreed. It was fresh and fragrant, and made our hands sticky with sap. 

We stood there silently for a while. I waited while she prayed a decade of the rosary and watched as she transferred a kiss from her fingers to the marble, patting it lovingly as if it were her father’s stooped shoulder. 

My mind wandered. It seems like such a pointless exercise, grieving over a slab of stone, I thought. If there is a heaven, and that is where the souls of the deceased go, should we not be sending our prayers up instead of down into the cold, hard ground? And if there is not, what we are doing other than paying homage to a lifeless pile of bones?

I tried my best to feign reverence, for my mother, who has a right to grieve in her own way and a need to believe in something. Who needs to believe in me.

"I hate to think of him here alone in the cold all winter long," she remarked sadly, hooking her arm into mine as we made our way back to the car.

"God’s grace will keep him warm, mommy," I responded, right on cue, not because I was so sure it would, but because she needed me to.

  1. erikreports said: I lost my grandfather 13 yrs ago and yet every holiday like this one coming, I still miss him. What I do is I also pay him a visit. Like your mom, I hate to think he’s alone out there feeling cold. So thank you for saying that. Even you’re not sure.
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