I went to her plot in the cemetery today. It wasn’t the first time I’d been back, but the last time we went it was very cold and we didn’t have sufficient coats to stay for long.
Today was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day. The sky was the brilliant blue of fall, the sun was warm, and the kids had played at the park for an hour. So I figured they would be willing to wander a little more slowly if I stopped to visit today.
I drove to the back of the cemetery, to the section where we left the beautiful pink and purple flowers and ribbons on top of fresh-laid sod. The faint sounds of children playing waltzes through the breezes from the nearby school. Hearing their happy voices just seems right.
Another family who lost a young son just donated a stone bench just a few yards from her spot. The bench was not there last week when I was last there. I know that I will spend a lot of time sitting on that bench, especially in the winter when it’s too cold to sit on the ground.
Today, though, we walked to her plot and sat down next to the now-brown flowers. A few little sprays of tiny purple ones are still brilliant purple. The tulle bow still sparkles purple. But the rest is drooping and crisping like the leaves on the trees.
Little Girl asked why we put Elli’s body under the ground. How do you explain that to a 3-year-old? I simply said, “That’s what many people do.” She asked if we could see Elli’s “live body” again. I told her that we would one day, when we die and go to be with Jesus. She asked when we would put Elli’s name there. I explained that a special stone with her name and picture would be there next spring, when the weather warmed up again. I look forward to having something there to mark her spot, especially since we do plan to have a photo of her smile engraved on the stone.
Sitting there, realizing that my little girl’s body was deep under that ground, not rolling around her school in her wheelchair… well, I can’t say that it is good exactly. But taking time to sit down and just feel it, let the tears roll for a few minutes, and not hurry around with a long to-do list was necessary for me today. And in a strange way, it was good.
We walked around for awhile after that. I was touched to see all the special things people had left or planted by their loved one’s grave. One stone placed for a couple read, “We never ran out of things to talk about.” Little Boy grabbed all the little flags that had been carefully placed near the stones of war veterans, played in the dirt exposed when the bench was installed, and kicked through piles of leaves. Little Girl followed him everywhere, practicing her best mother voice. “STOP that. Come HERE. Don’t go THAT way!”
It’s become a new home of sorts. How quickly this cemetery feels natural and comfortable to be in. I am glad that we chose this place. Even though I tear up every time we drive by, which is almost every day, it is good to be close enough to drop by any time.