When F died, I made weekly visits to the cemetery. Sometimes even a few times a week. I felt like I would kill over right there in the middle of that field, but I made myself do it.
Sometimes I would take fresh flowers. Sometimes I would just sit there and cry.
One day I noticed an older, broken headstone at the far end of the field. I walked down to check it out. It was a veteran's headstone with a military service plaque and a faded flag flying in front. I stood there for a few minutes, imagining what this guy looked like, what he did in the service, and how proud his family must have been. It saddened me that none of his family had been there to take care of his stone.
From his stone, I walked around to each and every one on the property. I stopped to read each one. To think of who those people were. Not just a name on a stone. But the person that once lived. What they looked like. What kind of job they had. What they enjoyed doing. How much they were loved by their families.
I brushed old leaves and dirt and dead bugs off the stones. I stood up flowers that had fallen over. I put the flowers I brought for F on other graves, the ones that never seem to have company any more.
It felt a little weird, talking to people I didn't know buried deep beneath those head stones. But at the same time, it felt like for those brief moments, those people I didn't know were allowed to live on, to be remembered, to feel love once again.
The new place we moved to is across from a cemetery.
I usually scan it over quickly with my eyes as I drive by it. I want to walk through there one day, to clean the stones and read the names, like I did back home.
This morning when I drove by, I didn't just quickly scan over it. My eyes felt drawn to it, to each and every stone across that big field. As these stones drew me in, I started thinking. Every one of those people buried there is someone's child. I thought of how badly it hurt losing my babies. I thought of how much more I understand my aunt's pain, now that I have suffered a loss of my own. Regardless of their age, when our children die, that pain is always there, always the same.
The idea made my heart heavy. For a few minutes, I felt like I was carrying the pain of all those parents in my heart. I felt like I shared their loss, their pain, their endless tears over their children. I felt like I should be on my knees weeping.
I thought my heart might explode.