Monday, May 30, 2011

Diet Coke Run

Typically when most people envision a Diet Coke run, they think of jaunting to a local convenience store to fill their mugs, or perhaps to a local favorite eatery to grab a refreshing drink. Some may think this is a new type of marathon race, considering how many of those are in existence. For me, a Diet Coke run was something I shared with a dear friend whenever we could work it into our crazy schedules. For several years, this good friend and I shared many things in common. Both Type 1 diabetics, we fought the same daily battle. Teaming up in diabetic rebellion, we faced doctor appointments together, and even ran the local county diabetic support group for many years. We always went for a Diet Coke run afterwards to touch base and toast our continuing war against a dreaded disease.

Today, I purchased two Diet Cokes from a local store, and headed up a lonely road. Stopping near a recent mound of earth, I pulled out a cheery bouquet of sunflowers, and both Diet Cokes. I placed the bouquet of sunflowers near the other flowers that were set there over the weekend, and placed one bottle of Diet Coke near the sunflowers. Then I pulled out the second bottle, removed its lid, and drank a toast to my friend. It was my way of showing respect and honor to Denise, letting her and her family know this valiant woman is not forgotten.

It is the traditionally celebrated Memorial Day today. Numerous tributes have been taking place all weekend. We've been decorating graves since Saturday, reminiscing about ancestors and close family members and friends who have passed from this mortal existence. Last night, we watched a tribute on TV for veterans who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Tonight, I'll be helping my husband take down all of the American flags that were set in place on veterans' graves last Thursday night in the local cemetery. Since Kennon is the head of the Bennington Cemetery Board, it's one of his responsibilities to make sure those flags are only in place for the allotted time during this commemorative holiday.

There are many ways to remember those who are no longer in mortal mode. Each year, a close friend and I make the rounds of several cemeteries in our valley, leaving behind small tokens of love on the graves of six special people who were taken in an instant from our lives in a fatal car accident. It's something we have done now for 14 years--our way of letting their families know we're thinking of them on this tender day. We will continue to do so until we are no longer in mortal mode ourselves.

Some people think this is a morbid tradition. I've actually heard some people say that it's a form of worshiping the dead. I beg to differ. I was raised in a family who spent Memorial Weekend decorating the graves of loved ones. In my opinion, it is an important tradition. It was upon these occasions that I learned family stories and legends that are part of our treasured family history. These stories need to be passed onto future generations as we pay tribute to those who paved the way for us, and those who gave their lives for our freedom.

It is up to us to decide how we will honor those who have gone before. I know for many people, this is the weekend that marks the beginning of summer. Lots of camping, boating, and traveling adventures are taking place. There is nothing wrong with that, but I hope that at some point during this holiday, most will pause for a moment to ponder the lives of those who are no longer with us. Though I doubt the deceased  care how many flowers are left near their headstones, I suspect it does matter that they are not forgotten.


Jennie said...

At one cemetery we visited this weekend, someone had placed a bottle of Dr.Pepper beside a bouquet of flowers. Your blog made me think of that and I agree with your sentiments, afterall the dead are still living; just in a different place.

Stephanie Black said...

Toasting Denise with Diet Coke was a beautiful gesture!

Cheri J. Crane said...

I agree, Jennie. Those who have slipped through the veil are merely in a different realm. I suspect they are closer than we think on occasion.

And thank you, Stephanie. It was a bittersweet moment, but something I needed to do.