I had to run up to the Veteran’s cemetery to pay my respects on Monday. If my friend Cobby were alive, we’d have been chattering constantly about marijuana prohibition ending in Maine. He didn’t think he’d see it in his lifetime, and he missed it by a little over 3 1/2 years.
Like me, he had a pretty rough go of it with polysubstance abuse in his youth and eventually settled on marijuana as a way to stabilize his physical and mental health. Among other things, he taught me how to extract from marijuana stems and use the resulting water to make tea.
There’s a cup of it sitting next to my keyboard as I type.
I would have been calling January 30, Marijuana Monday, and I would have been joking in our daily phone conversations that it should be declared a holiday. Holiday or not, I’m sure we would have celebrated together — thus the trip to the cemetary.
I like to go later in the day, sometimes at night even, but preferably right before sunset. Sunsets are stunning there, and it’s easier because no one’s there to hear me talking to the air. And crying.
I was sitting on the ice-crusted snow complaining to Cobby about him not being here for Marijuana Monday after thirty years of medicating together illegally, when another car pulled in. Normally, I’d be disappointed, but I recognized the sedan. It belongs to a gentleman whose wife is buried a few rows away from my friend.
I’ve seen this gentleman so much up there, we’ve become what I call, sadness friends. We’ve swapped stories about our loved ones. He and his wife were married sixty years and never spent a night apart until the first one after she died. He’s been going to the cemetery every day since and can count on one hand the number of days he’s missed in the last three years.
When he describes his wife, I can see he’s as much in love with her today standing in front of her headstone as he was 60 years ago. That’s devotion.
We’re comfortable enough with each other that I don’t have to stop talking to the air when my sadness friend is there. He talks out loud to his wife, too. It’s been at least a half year since we’ve bumped into each other, and I noticed he’s walking a bit slower, and as we greeted each other his smile was quicker to turn to tears.
My sadness friend said he felt awful because he missed coming to the cemetery a couple days last week. Now that the third anniversary of his wife’s death is coming up, he’s accepted that even if he lives to 100, he’ll still be missing her the same.
When he said that, I reached out to put my hand on his arm, and he returned the gesture, gripping mine. We stood there like that for a minute, silently sharing the burden of losing one of the great blessings in our lives, tears chilling and thickening as they coated our eyelashes.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m posting this story. Maybe I like it because it spans the monumental and the momentary. Life’s richness is found in the monumental and in the momentary.
Like the ending of a senseless prohibition that turned good people trying to take care of themselves into criminals. And the feel of a veritable stranger’s arm during a moment of sharing the weight of profound grief.