Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Friday, December 01, 2006

We put the grave blankets on this week.

My brother, my sister, and my father. It's weird to say.
We've been doing it my whole life, and it's always been a somber, melancholy kind of day. Even when we'd go out on a sunny day in the spring, it would throw a sort of quiet over everything else.
My parents had a boy baby before I was born. His name was Mark and he lived about a month. I asked my mom once if I'd have been born if he'd lived, and she immediately responded with "Of course." In my dark moments, I'm not so sure.
Then when I was four, my mom had her last baby. Heidi didn't live very long despite weighing almost ten pounds. My mother never saw her alive and didn't even make the funeral, as she was still in the hospital. My father made all the arrangements.
It seems weird to have the realization--and I have it almost every time we go out there--that I have a brother and sister in the cemetery. I never met either one.
We would go out a few times a year. In the spring to clean off the headstones for the summer, then perhaps in the fall to clean them off for the winter. One last time later for the grave blankets.
It was something of a challenge to find the headstones. We would park near the sign (2B) and get out. We'd walk among those stones, all of them flat to the ground. We would study the names, the dates, looking for something familiar. Looking for our own last name. Carefully avoiding the stuffed animals, balloons, and pinwheels left at the more recently dug, feeling my throat swell up funny at the flowers left at the older ones. Then someone would find the stones and we'd kneel. Dad would lead us in an Our Father and we'd move on to the next one.
A big deal was not made; it was just something we did. Now, when I take my own children there and I watch them walk among the stones, I understand how some that are thirty years old still get pinwheels and stuffed animals. And I wonder about those unadorned headstones. Are the child's parents still alive now, almost forty years later? Did they move away? Does anyone remember and mourn this child?
Then I remember: Matthew 18:2-4. If those little ones aren't in the presence of God, I don't know who would be.


At 5:16 AM, Blogger Barb, sfo said...

How heartbreaking...
Perhaps one year your family will want to take care of one extra gravesite, that has obviously been neglected. And pray for the parents who lost that little soul.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger Milehimama said...

I have a baby sister who is dead also. She's buried in another state, and is probably one of those unadorned headstones. We moved away almost 20 years ago.
Several years ago my dad was in that town for a business trip and stopped and made a plaster cast of the headstone to bring back home.

At 4:04 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

Heather, I was touched by this. We have three small white caskets in our family, and there's a special place in my heart now for all the small gravesites, as well as for the families who buried the babies.


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