On every birthday, I pay a visit to my parent’s grave.
I stand over their resting place and remind myself I would not be here without them. They were my guardians here on earth and knew me the best. I’m grateful to them for that.
Without fail, I shed a few tears. I place my hand on their names and feel connected to the life we once shared. It is equally comforting as bittersweet.
So much has changed. Besides being an adult orphan, the oldest family member, and retired, I have grown in my faith. These days I believe more fervently in God’s providence. I pray more, especially a devotion Mom had often encouraged.
The weather is rarely perfect at the cemetery. In summer, the sun is fire on my back. In the fall, fierce winds leave me shivering. Even in the spring, the ground is uneven and mushy. Regardless of the season, I try and avoid goose droppings on my way to the site. Despite all this, there is solace in being there.
Like previous stops, we brush off the dirt and grass from the dark teal slate. It rained recently, and the freshly mowed grass, dried and like straw, sticks to the marker. I was annoyed at first, always finding the spot needing tidying. Now that task is a way to cherish this place. I sponge the plate down, clear away the muck, and polish the surface.
Without fail, on my birthdate, Mom and Dad would sing Happy Birthday. I never grew tired of hearing them, nor reading the priceless pieces my father would pen in my cards. He’d tell me he loved me the first and the longest. It was all true because I was the oldest of three, but those were his words and were golden to me.
That devotion has a short but powerful line that repeats. It softens the remnants of sadness still lingering. I now understand the love my mother had for that prayer and the power it unleashes.
I touch my parents’ names again before I leave. Even if they are now always with me, I say goodbye anyway. Sometimes I’d add “see you soon.” That’s what I’d tell them at their condo. After we hugged, they closed their door. A stab of loneliness would surface even though I knew they were a phone call away or a short trip back.
The birthday outing to the grave completes the day. I treasure the ritual of spending time there. Even though life has never been the same, I embrace the “different” in the journey I continue without them.
Copyright (c) 2022 all rights reserved, Jackie Kierulf, writer.
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Jackie Kierulf is from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her publications include “The Bluff” (Paddler Press), “Saturday” (Route 7 Review), “Forgiven” (Tidbits), “Baking Lessons” (Williams Lake Tribune, BC, Canada), and “The Father I Knew” (Grief Dialogues). You can find her work at https://
One comment on “Birthdays 2022”
November 16, 2022 | 2:28 am
Very beautiful. Thank you.