As Eater has come and now gone, I think back to all the pictures I see of families who visit their child’s grave and decorate for every season and holiday that passes by. Each flower or trinket so carefully placed atop the patch of earth concealing their children’s once precious and delicate bodies. A child so loved. An expression of that love that continues well past the length of their terrestrial life. These parents are there to respect their children’s physical vessel, to honor and incorporate them into their celebrations, and to keep them present in their own lives, as they’re forced to celebrate such occasions without them.
I didn’t visit the cemetery yesterday. Actually, I don’t visit the cemetery at all. I don’t lay flowers at Miss Elliott’s headstone, or even Easter eggs, Christmas poinsettias, or Halloween pumpkins. I just don’t go there. The cemetery is a cold, dark, and desolate place to me. I don’t feel her presence there. I can’t picture her there. She’s not there. I tired, out of respect and obligation, at least at first, to go and take part in all the typical and expected forms of displays of mourning. I took flowers, a stuffed lamb for Easter, little angel trinkets, butterflies, and even balloons on her birthday, but every time I went I hated being there. The hardest part was leaving. Driving away each time after a visit was as excruciating as they day of her funeral, when I had to drive away and leave her there, never to see her beautiful body again. That body that I had protectively held so close for hours each day, the hair I had stroked softly with my hands, the tiny fingers I held in my own. I would never lay my eyes on any part of her ever again. Those fingers of mine, which now sat idle begged to betray my mind and claw at the earth covering her body below. I wanted so badly to dig down to expose the four-foot pink casket that lay under the soil, and open it up to reclaim my perfect child. It disgusted me to know she (her body) was trapped down there forever. If I couldn’t get to her to hold her and be with her, why then did I come at all?
She’s not there. She’s with God. She’s with me. She’s in my heart. She’s in this house. Casa de Elliott; as I named our home when we purchased it. The home where she lived and died. Her bottles are in the cupboard. He clothes hang in the closet. Her memory flows through the walls. This home represents her life. The cemetery represents her death. So how will I feel to move away from her? Right now, her grave is within walking distance of our home. Is it a comfort that even though she’s not there, she’s so close? Will I walk away without a second thought as I intend to, or will I miss the cemetery when we move away? I suspect the latter. I suspect that even unconsciously the proximity of her body itself has always been a comfort to me.
We’ve recently decided to pick up and move away. We’re giving ourselves a fresh start and some much needed change. We’re excited at all the possibilities this move has to offer our family Our move will take us not too far away, but we won’t stay too close either. We’ll be around two hundred miles from where we are now. I don’t feel apprehensive about leaving her grave behind at all, but even that thought is worrisome. Grief can masquerade as many things in your life and trick you into thinking you understand or are okay with that which you in fact do not/are not. There’re so many thing we take for granted in this life and don’t miss at all until they’re gone. I wonder if a grave is one of them?
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“A star falls from the sky and into your hands. Then it seeps through your veins and swims inside your blood and becomes every part of you. And then you have to put it back into the sky. And it’s the most painful thing you’ll ever have to do and that you’ve ever done. But what’s yours is yours. Whether it’s up in the sky or here in your hands. And one day, it’ll fall from the sky and hit you in the head real hard and that time, you won’t have to put it back in the sky again.”
— C. JoyBell C.