I have gone back and forth on writing this blog entry for a week now, but I've decided to go ahead and write about my experience on the way home from Florida. All I ask is that you read this with an open mind. You are free to believe me or not. Please keep in mind, however, that this is a really sensitive topic for me and my family, so please no rude comments. If you think I'm crazy, that's fine. In some ways I am. :)
The morning we left Florida did not go according to plan. We didn't make it out the door until 10:30, due to a lot of last minute packing etc. I truly felt on edge, in part, because on the way home we were stopping at the cemetery in which my grandparents ashes were interred. Their headstone had been placed just a few days prior, and I wanted to take pictures to show my mom and dad. I also wanted Nora to understand where Grandma and Grandpa's bodies gone.
Prior to shutting the back gate to the van, I snapped a picture of all the stuff in the back. I put the lens on the camera, and popped it in my purse. We then made the treck to Sarasota National Cemetery. I parked the van and Nora and I searched for my Grandpa's grave. It was easy to find; the back row. They were among the most recent of the dead. The emotions I'd been feeling all week welled up and then out, and I started to cry. Nora stood next to me and said it was ok. I pulled myself together, for her sake, and told her that it was her job to put the flowers she picked out in the ground. It was a present from us to them. As she placed the flowers, I began to snap a few pictures. I was having a hard time with the viewfinder, it didn't seem to be working with the shine of the sun. The same thing had happened at the beach. I did my best to aim, looking at the viewfinder and the grave. All seemed normal. I was upset, however, because I only saw my Grandfather's stone. I wondered aloud where they had placed my Grandmother.
I brought Nora back to the van so I could have a few minutes alone. A worker approached me and apologized for eavesdropping, but he said my Grandmother's information was on the backside of the same stone. I went to the other side and there it was. I cried, and cried, and cried. After I was done with my goodbye, I took a few more pictures to show my mom. I was still having trouble with the viewfinder, so I made sure to get another shot of the front of the tombstone as well, just to be on the safe side.
I went to back to the van, so my Grandma Esther could pay her respects. And then, long story short, I drove like a bat out of hell to Byron, GA. I just wanted to get home.
I never checked the pictures until I got back to IL, several days later. And I couldn't believe what I saw. At first I thought I screwed up the pictures. But then I looked closer. The picture I took when we left, the one of the van, was fine. The second set of pictures from the grave site was also fine. The first set of pictures I took with Nora had something in them that I did not see with my eyes when I stood there in Florida. There are white shadows, or mists, or clouds of sorts. I looked, and continue to look, at those pictures. Those figures are not smudges, they are not humidity, they are not accidents of the camera. I am convinced, CONVINCED, that those pictures show my grandparents. I believe they were there to say their goodbyes as well.
I have always believed in life after death. I have always believed we are not our bodies. I now believe I have pictures that seemingly prove this point. You look, you see, you judge. Of course you can believe what you will. But I will treasure these photos as a testament that not only are my grandparents actually ok, but that they love Nora and I enough to come back from the otherside for a moment to say goodbye to us as well.