Friday, July 18, 2014

Cutting the Grass

Yesterday we took flowers to Laila's grave.  It's the last time we get to bring fresh flowers to her grave for a long time and I wanted to do it one last time.  We will visit her grave next week on the 24th, the third anniversary of her death, and the day before we move.  Mike had suggested we go visit her grave that morning and then just start our drive to Tennessee after but I told him I couldn't handle that much sadness in one day.  Maybe I should have agreed because honestly, it's going to be a rough day followed by another rough day.  The majority of the time when we visit her I feel peaceful and reflective but not anymore.  Every visit ends up in tears now.  The closer we get to the grave the heavier my heart feels and the tighter the knot in my stomach twists.  It's really hard for me to consider leaving her behind.

The thought of leaving Colorado and Laila behind on the 24th, Pioneer Day, just seems too ironic for me.  I keep thinking about those Pioneer women who had to bury their babies in the frozen ground and then continue on their journey, not knowing if their babies would be eaten by wolves or other wild animals.  It feels pretty horrible to have to leave Laila behind in her protected little spot, I can't even imagine what it would be like if I thought her body would not be safe.  Also, I know I will be back near her again, but for now I hate it.  

I told Mike I'm going to become that crazy lady who makes us all go to a cemetery in Tennessee and choose a random grave to take care of.  Maybe there is someone else who wishes they could visit their baby but can't and having us take care of their grave would mean something to them.  I have some friends who have promised to visit Laila and that means the world to me.  

When we buried her she was the only person buried in that row.  Then baby Nathan became her neighbor and it was just the two of them for awhile but now almost the entire row is filled with little tiny babies, most only living a few days.  Laila lived more days on this earth than most of them.  I commented to Mike last night how that row of headstones symbolizes so many tears and sadness for so many families.  It's kind of heartbreaking.  

Last night Mike and I took the scissors we had brought to cut the stems of the roses and cut all the tall grass around every single headstone in the row.  The grass gets cut regularly but they don't get right up around the headstone.  One of the headstones had so much tall grass you couldn't see the name.  We clipped all the grass away so you could see the pretty name of the baby.  She lived a life, even if it was short, and her name should be seen.  Another headstone had lady bugs (at least two) hanging out.  Another one had flat painted rocks around it.  Piper picked one up and I took it from her to put it back and held it for just a second.  It had little dots painted on it and on the back, "I love you.  Love, Mommy"  I couldn't help but feel reverence while I held that rock and thought about that sweet mother, lovingly painting her rock for her sweet baby.  I could almost feel all her pain and love burning my hand through that rock.  There were other rocks that appeared to be painted by a sibling.  I imagined this mother sitting painting rocks with her child and having discussions like I used to have with Eli, "Why did God want to take her away from us?"  I hope that mom believes in God and the afterlife and has people that love her and support her and pray for her and her continued happiness. 

I walked by Nathan's headstone and remembered all the times I spent with his mom and the miraculous way we met.  I always wonder if Nathan and Laila have met in the afterlife--if they are interested in who they are buried next to.  I can't help but feel a closeness to him, partly because for so long it was just the two of them on that row.  Being buried right next to her and knowing his mom and family, I couldn't help but grieve him as well while I came to visit my little baby.  

I couldn't help but clip that grass and think about each baby and every family member grieving that baby.  Part of me wished I could leave little notes for each one with encouraging words, understanding, and hope.  I wish I could tell them of my belief in a loving God and of the Plan of Salvation.  I wish I could tell them that my heart aches for them and the tears they will cry the rest of their lives.  I wish I could tell them I understand how valuable those few hours, days, or months they spent with their precious baby is.   I wish I could tell them how happy life can still be.  

It's been such a life-changing experience we have experienced.  I often think of Elder Maxwell and how he said he hoped to "drink from a bitter cup without becoming bitter."  It's been a pretty bitter cup to drink from and I hope I am not becoming bitter.

1 comment:

The Duke said...

You captured what I was thinking all last week. I have sensed these feelings and have worried for you. I hope you are able to feel a great peace as you leave her once again knowing that you will, for a certainty, meet her again and that will be forever, never to be parted again.