My pilgrimage is over and yet it feels, several days post-pilgrimage, as if it is still happening. I am feeling sadness, regret, fear of death, uncertainty.
Sadness: Arriving in Powers Lake, ND felt sad to me. I was curious and eager to find my grandfather's grave, but going through the small town, imagining my mother growing up there, going to school...I had sadness. And finding then the cemetery I immediately had tears. I can still feel them welling up as I think of driving up to the sign saying Bethel Cemetery. I just let the sadness be. Mallow raced around the grass and graves and I felt joy in watching her. Joy. Life. Death. Gone. For ever. Sadness at the saying at the bottom of Franz's grave: 'Gone But Not Forgotten'.
Regret: Regret that I never got to meet and know my grandfather, With his birthday a day before mine - October 20th - I always felt a kinship with him. And energetic connection. By all accounts he was a very kind man, very caring. A hard worker. Honest. A big, tall man. I like to think I might be like him in some ways. Not tall!
And regret that I did not know my mom better. Spreading her ashes also was sad for me...the actual homage I intended all along. The cemetery sits on a slight hill surrounded by tall evergreens - which felt like home - overlooking the small town of Powers Lake. And the lake. Opening the container and then the plastic bag with her ashes was hard. I started and stopped...started again and stopped. Erroneously thinking that holding onto those ashes, as unconscious as that thought has been, was somehow going to do more repair to our relationship. That magically there would be improvement. So letting them go was letting go of those final thoughts and feelings a child part of myself.
Fear of death. This is a big one and a universal issue. I was not raised in a family with traditions around burial, death, visits to cemeteries. So being there with the grave and paying homage to a man I did not know felt a bit strange. I came away with the certainty that I want to be put into the earth just as I am, without a gravestone or much ceremony. And of course, I wonder what people will remember. But that seems like my ego speaking. Oh well...
Uncertainty: Still processing. Pondering. Wondering. Many miles and lots of time to think. Still meandering.