Today started with a surprise! I went to my usual 8:30 mass this morning, and as they announced the mass intentions, the lector intoned “Kimberley Babcock!” Though we did not get involved in St. Thomas a’Becket as we had at St. Dunstan, we have some very good friends there. Good enough to remember Kim and ask that masses be said for her.

After mass, I drove to the cemetery as is my Sunday routine. The rotten deer or the wind had, again, tipped her grave blanket over, so I righted it, cleaned it off, and modified it to make it a little more resistant to tipping (we engineers are a determined lot…).

And then I had a very frank, one-sided conversation with her about something that had changed in my life. More on that tomorrow.

They say that routine is good; that it helps keep depression at bay to have a schedule of tasks. The tasks do not need to be all “work,” either. Plan fun things for yourself, too. But develop a routine. It does help.

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday…

The new Sunday ritual: 8:00 mass, then to the cemetery to visit Kim’s, her mom’s, my dad’s, my grandparents’, and my grand aunts’ and uncles’ graves. It snowed a bit last night, and the roads were still a mess. They were still clearing the roads within the cemetery when we arrived. We stopped at the mausoleum to use the bathrooms (it’s a good drive from home to the cemetery), and were there before they had opened it – thankfully, the individual who was to do so was parked directly in front of us, and promptly unlocked the doors and let us in.

Since August of 2019, Kim had made this trip with her dad each Sunday — sometimes with me, if I had the day off, but many times without. Before COVID, we’d go to 8:00 mass with her Dad at St. Collette’s in Livonia, go out to breakfast at a little diner he and mom used to like, back to his house to combine cars, then off to the cemetery, usually stopping at a florist on the way to get flowers for each of the graves. Honestly, I can’t remember making the trip after COVID. I’m sure we did for a while – I just cannot recall any of them. Dad’s in Florida now, so it’s just Jillian and me for the time being. When he returns, Jillian and I will still go to mass at St. Thomas a’Becket, but we’ll meet dad at his house afterward, where he’ll have a little breakfast before we all get into my truck and go visit the graves.

It’s sad, but it is somehow refreshing to go each week, clean the grave blankets of snow and say a prayer over Kim. It makes me feel better, anyway.

As I mentioned yesterday, tomorrow is Kim’s 55th birthday. Jillian and I added her birthday bouquet to the grave blanket – the wind or the rotten deer dragged off the big purple ribbon which was the blanket’s centerpiece… The bouquet looks pretty good there, I think.

The bouquet in the blanket.

From there, we returned home and went to Grandma Sue’s for a little birthday brunch to celebrate Kim. When asked if I wanted to say a prayer for Kim as the Sander’s Bumpy Cake – our family’s traditional birthday cake – was being cut, all I could manage was “Happy birthday, Kim.” I hope that was prayer enough. I was a little emotionally raw at the time, and that was all I could come up with.

I hope Kim has a beautiful heavenly birthday celebration at God’s throne, with her mom, my dad, Grandpa Rick, and all of our friends and relatives who went before us.

A different kind of Sunday morning

Today was different for a couple of reasons. Normally, my youngest daughter and I will go to 8:00 mass, then over to my father-in-law’s house. From there, we go, with dad, to the cemetery to visit Kim’s grave, and her mother’s, right next to her. But this week, dad is on the way to Florida with his son, and my granddaughter was with me since my oldest had to work last night.

Plus, we were planning to go to Gramma Sue’s for brunch after it all. So, we went to 8:00 mass as usual, but with my granddaughter in tow; then returned home to putz around for a while, going to the cemetery in the late morning. What a difference that made for traffic!

In any case, the deer did not do much damage this week. Since it hadn’t snowed in a while, I guess they had enough exposed browse to forgo the pine boughs on all the grave blankets and other winter decor on the graves, and I didn’t have to retrieve the blanket and put it back on her grave. But I did pry some stones out of the frozen mound over Kim. My youngest boy had done this when his grandmother passed a year ago last August – I guess a keepsake of sorts. When Kim was buried, there weren’t a lot of stones evident, and, with the cold, COVID, masks and all the activity in setting the flowers and such after the earth was put back in place, it was difficult for him to find any. I’ll clean them up and give them to him later. Maybe keep one for myself – I’ll put it at the base of one of Kim’s plants that I’m trying to keep alive.

Funny – there were a lot of peace lilies delivered to the visitation at the funeral home. When I moved out of my parents’ house into the apartment Kim and I would share after we were married, she bought a big peace lily plant for the apartment and admonished me not to kill it (it was a challenge: I’m terrible with plants.). So, we began our life together with a peace lily, and our life together ended with peace lilies. One of Kim’s plants I’m trying to keep alive in her craft room is also a peace lily. I guess I’ll put the stones at the base of that one.

Well, I can’t say I was jumping for joy at all today, but I think my mood was a little lighter after the visit. Still won’t get any participation awards from anything…