I visited my son’s grave today.
There was no special reason. No holiday or anniversary. No family or friends that live far away who wanted to pay their respects. I was just driving and saw the snow on the ground and wanted to check on my son, clean up his grave, and remove the decorations that I put up for Autumn.
Matthew is buried in a beautiful spot. I will be buried near him, but not next to him because that space is occupied, which makes me very sad.
It used to make me angry.
The cemetery sexton told us that the grave right next to my son was donated and the family doesn’t have the resources for a headstone. There is a metal marker that has an index card with typing on it. The woman’s name has been obliterated. All I know is that death occurred in July of 1998 and that she was only 41 at the time of passing.
It’s hard not to think about “Her” when I visit the cemetery. She makes her presence known. That marker is quite close to Bug’s headstone and has very sharp corners. I don’t think that there has been a gathering there where someone’s pants, legs or coat don’t get ripped on the edges of that sharp, cold metal.
I also notice her because she has never, ever had one flower or sign of visitation in all the years I’ve been going to see my Little Bug. Though bitter and angry that she was occupying such a treasured spot, I began to be curious about this neighbor of my son.
Who was she? What was she like? Did she have any family? Why was she so abandoned?
It made me feel so bad for this woman.
My family felt bad as well. So now, whenever we decorate or bring things to Bug, we put a little something on her grave, too. It’s the least I can do for someone who will lay next to my little one for all time.
It has come to give me a little comfort in a place and situation that is terrible.
Many people get comfort and peace visiting the graves of their loved ones, but I don’t. So, I don’t go to the cemetery often. It is not that I don’t WANT to go, I do. Because I miss my son. There are times where my desire to go and be in the same proximity of where my baby boy is is so overwhelming that I’ve gone up in the middle of the night in my pajamas, just to lay down on the grass and cry.
Being there is very hard on me.
I am a highly tangible person. When Matthew died, I ran around like a crazy person buying duplicates of every toy, blanket and special outfit I could find. Because I wanted him to be buried with the things that he loved in life, but I could.not.part.with.them. I needed those things to hold, cuddle, smell and cherish.
It’s hard for me to visit the place where he is buried because it is horrible for me to picture what has become of the little body that I loved and watched over. It’s hard to be there freezing and shivering and not freak out because I, his mother, his protector, can’t do anything to make him warm. I know it makes no sense. I know that he can’t feel anything, but BABIES ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE COLD.
Not MY babies.
Not on MY watch.
Going to see him at this place, this tangible reminder of the worst day of my life, is hard to do. To get through it I take comfort in whatever I can, whenever I can.
I got a little bit.
I parked my car, walked to Bug’s grave and saw that someone brought flowers to “Her”.
Someone remembered she was there.
Even better? There was a card. Maybe I shouldn’t have read it, but after so many years and so much wondering, I had to know something about her. It was a simple statement written on the back of a Winnie the Pooh florist card:
“Mom, We love you and miss you dearly- The 4 of us are all here together for the first time at your grave since July 9, 1998. Love, Michael, Angie, Tony (Dad), Brandy”.
It made me ridiculously happy. While there is still no first or last name that I can give to “Her”, I know that she had the best name ever: MOM.
She had a family. Loved ones. People that loved her and cared about her and missed her. People that I could see, for whatever reason, were not able to watch over her final resting place and tend to her as they would like to.
Looking at that card I felt so much of my anger and resentment disappear.
I felt hope and gratitude, both things I have not felt in a very long time.
Hope that I CAN get through this.
Gratitude that even though it was only for a very short time, this wonderful, beautiful, AMAZING spirit that was my son…my Matthew…was MINE.
I got to be his MOM. The best word in the world.
It is something that I had almost forgotten in my layers of dark, unending grief.
“Her” and her family helped remind me that the joy of being Matthew’s mother can NEVER be taken away from me.
As long as I draw breath and have family, my child’s resting place will not be forgotten, but cared for and loved and watched over.
So will “Hers”.
I’ll make sure of it.