I like cemeteries. I don't know that I had an opinion for or against before we lost Caleb - I probably nothinged them.* Caleb is buried in a beautiful, perfect spot under a dignified old tree on a hill next to the bayou. It's one of my favorite places and one where I invariably find rest - deep, soul rest.
There's a swing close by where you can sit and think about stuff. When I'm done thinking, I walk among the headstones. The epitaphs catch my attention first.
Somehow the brevity of these conveys the depth of what was lost...
This was someone's love, someone's son.
I love the character here.
"Storms never last, baby"
Did a solemn tombstone salesman try to talk him (I don't know why, but I picture a man choosing this.) out of it? I hope not. It has style.
And these are just earnest and raw.
"They loved each other, their children and grandchildren with every fiber of their being. They were awesome."
"Loved by your mother and everybody"
Epitaphs can cast a kind of personality to a life story, but the names and dates whisper hints about the plot. I like to puzzle over the details. So many of them are fascinating. This is for a three year old, and it's odd.
The strangeness of it is a story. The grandmother and aunt felt strongly enough about their relationship to this little guy to etch directions to their own burial spots. Who were his parents? Did they die first or abandon him? Are they buried elsewhere?
The lack of information is its own story here.
She's buried next to her husband who died a few years after her and has a standard military marker. But her's has no date of birth and says simply, "Wife." What? There are so many possibilities. Did she turn up on someone's doorstep as a baby, and no one knew her date of birth? Was he a man of very, very few words? Was she always such a pain about her birthday that he left it off her tombstone out of spite? Was she sensitive about her age, so he left it off for love? I kind of like the orphan story.
I wonder what people make of Caleb's marker? There's personality and a story there...
Once we found out Caleb was terminally ill, much of my struggle centered around the value of his life. I was pregnant with a child who would never speak, walk or smile. Those facts were painful and brutal and waged war on my motherhood. "Does he really count?" "Does his life really matter?" His marker was one of the ways we said, "Yes. His life matters." He was born on July 8, 2000 and he died the same day. There are two dates on his marker because that hour he lived was sacred time. It was important. "Our little angel" is from a song my brother wrote for him before he was born. He was important enough for a song. The setting is also significant. Chris and I could not face the funeral arrangements when Caleb died, so our parents chose this beautiful, perfect spot with room for others. I wonder, in 100 years, will anyone notice that the first family member buried in this little piece of ground was a baby who lived for only a day? There's a story there.
* Remember that scene in Scrubs when J.D. asks Jordan why she hates him and she replies, "I don't hate you. I nothing you."