Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Cemetery

I stopped at the cemetery today on my way out of town. So many times I pass by without stopping, but always I like to visit before I leave town for a few days, and if I can, stop on my way back in.

On Sunday, I planted mums, dark red ones, in front of the family stone. Henry’s name is not on this stone because we want to get him a stone of his own. But I’ve found that plants left directly on his grave, whether in a basket or planted directly in the ground get stolen or dug up. 

It’s hard enough to go to the cemetery to visit my baby boy. I don’t need to find the little things I leave for him damaged or gone. It disheartens me every time. Brian gets enraged. I mostly just get weary and sad.

Today there was a huge chunk out of the front of the mum. Perhaps from a mower; perhaps from somebody plucking it off. I’ve never been sure if it was an act of malice or not caring. Either way it upsets me.

It bothered me for a long time as I sat in traffic at the beginning of my trip. I was on the verge of tears and trying to stay focused on the road. So I tried to let the frustration go, and I focused on this.

Henry was buried in December when the ground was hard and frozen. Soon his grave was covered with snow. Then the snow retreated and we could see the bare earth, his tiny grave. As the ground warmed, they prepared to reseed it. Brian and I would pick up little stones each time we visited, stones that would sit on a shelf or in our pockets, a token from Henry’s place. One of the last days before they seeded, we were at the cemetery and I just started making a heart for Henry out of the stones. Brian helped, and then together we pieced out his name. It was the only marker we had for his grave at that point.

We went away, knowing we wouldn’t see our marker again, for the seed was to be planted the next day. Weeks later I got an envelope in the mail, somebody in town, but I name I only recognized from a card when Henry died. Inside I found pictures of Henry’s stone heart.

Brian ran into the cemetery caretaker, who told him that he had hated to cover it up. But, he said, I put the first layer down carefully. It’s still there underneath.

So I hold on to this. If somebody chooses to steal flowers off my baby’s grave or the cemetery staff can’t be bothered to not cut down what I plant for him, one day somebody cared enough to preserve—in pictures and in reality—Henry’s stone heart. Flowers may go missing, but his name and his symbol are just a few inches down. Knowing they are there is a slight comfort; knowing somebody took the time for that kindness, much more of one.

I’m still upset, and will be, when I think of the flowers, but there is a slight redemption to hold onto. 


  1. How thoughtful for that person to take pictures of Henry's heart for you and to know that underneath the sod the heart is still there too. It is the love we have to hold onto and the callous actions we have to release. I'm glad you have that heart to think of and not just the broken flowers.

  2. I am so sorry people have disrespected your son's grave like this, the mowers can be pretty careless. But the stone heart is just precious, that must have been so comforting to see. Love to the sky


  3. I love the story of the heart, both that someone thought to send you pictures of it and that the caretaker left it there, under the grass.

  4. I got chills reading this. The heart with Henry's name is such a powerful image of your love for your son, and that someone recognized the importance of this is so kind. ((((hugs))))

  5. Cemetaries are so hard. We are not allowed to put anything IN the ground. I can't stand it. That's why we use the bush at our home as the place we weed, and plant in, and tend to.

    Glad you got the picture. That is something.

  6. I thought about Henry's heart when I went to the children's cemetery the other. My daughter isn't buried there but I like to go and sit on the bench under the trees.
    I'm so glad that it is there under the grass. That little piece of love. xo