Sometimes we go walking in the cemetery in town. It has been there since the town was founded and the stones tell stories of builders and families of this once long ago Swiss settlement. I am always drawn to this Angel, which carries one of the wives of the wealthy men that lived here. All of the wives have monuments that reach to the sky where their husbands are lower to the ground. I find that beautiful, this one especially. This angel stands between the founders plots and the graves of over 100 children that died too soon and I think of her as the Mother of the Forgotten.
At first I didn’t know what the small numbered stones were. They had no dates, just numbers. Then one day I came across a line of numbered stones that had a date below them, just one and it slowly dawned on me what they were. One family plot had a stone for over seven months in one year. I was overcome with a sadness for this woman that lived hundreds of years before me. I looked up when I realized what they were and saw hundreds. The feeling that came over me was overwhelming and I didn’t feel like I could move. There were so many of them, so many forgotten stones that were falling apart or sinking into the earth. Then far in the distance I saw a flower, a small bouquet of faux white carnations; the innocence flower. Someone remembered.
Moments like this make me pause and reflect on my life and how fleeting it is. I give thanks for the era I live in, even with its troubles. If I had lived then my son Judah wouldn’t have made it as we had difficulties after he was born. He could have been an unmarked stone resting amongst the others. Instead he is here, he is lovely, he is proudly walking at my side and for this I am thankful. I silently whisper good-bye to The Mother of the Forgotten and journeyed home.
Note: I used to work for a funeral home/cemetery as a Grievance Counselor. I would spend hours walking along the paths of cemeteries to make sure things were orderly and people’s loved ones were taken care of in their resting places. Even though I no longer work in this field I still find myself placing flowers on unmarked graves. When I was little my Father took me to place flowers on the grave of the Rainbow Indian child. A young boy who passed long before him, when an Indian tribe passed through and he couldn’t be saved. My grandmother placed flowers there when she was young and then with my Father when he was little, and I with him. It isn’t abnormal for us to take our children to cemeteries to place flowers on the graves of the lost ones.