It was early September. I was driving around the cemetery, watching the deer and turkeys, when I drove by the markers. I'd driven by them several times before, but I felt I needed to get out and see who they were for. They're older markers - anyone can tell at first glance. As I drove closer to them, I parked and got out. I walked around and caught my breath in my throat. They were site markers of infants....from over 100 years ago.
The first one I came upon had something inscribed in the top - but with the cloud cover, it was very hard to make out. I squinted and bobbed and weaved and finally made out the name: Rebecca. This baby was born on July 7 1900 and died July 8 1900. Baby Rebecca. My eyes welled up - she had a name. I was so grateful her parents named her. Infant death is so taboo - and even more so from eras gone by - there are too many babies without a name.
"Oh baby Rebecca - I pray your parents are holding you in eternity now!" I rested my hand on her headstone for quite some time. I moved to the next one. "Infant daughter of George and Georgia". 1913. No name. Another baby with no name. Given the names of her parents, I affectionately named her "Georgina". It seemed only fitting. Next headstone. Baby Orin Phillip.
My heart ached a brand new ache - feeling a bond with people gone long before me, knowing they also had to live their lives without their babies. I will never know them here on earth, but I feel like I do.
That visit brought a new routine to my visits to the cemetery. I go spend time with Harlynn. I visit the babies nearby her. Then, I drive around and park near Baby Rebecca. I visit the three stones in a row. I don't know why I'm drawn to them. I wonder when the last time anyone visited them was. Has it been years? Decades? Ever? I don't know their stories. I don't need to know their stories. I know they died far too soon. I know the heartache that was felt as a result. And I know they've been in heaven for over 100 years. 100 years. Can you imagine?
Tonight, Brent and I took flowers to Harlynn's site. It's the first nice fall day of the week, and it isn't pouring rain. I'm sure the deer will feast upon them, but for the time we were there, they were beautiful against her new site marker. I shed some tears, and walked back to the van. I started to ask Brent if he would drive me over to the other area and he said, "I intended to." He knows me. He knows I need to stop there.
I got out, I stopped by Baby Rebecca. I cried. I don't know why. Sometimes I can't help it. I hope Harlynn has met her. I told Brent about my naming baby Georgina. I whispered to little Orin. I walked, slowly, back to our van.
I long for my innocence. I long for my naivety. Back when I didn't know babies could die. Back when I didn't know it possible for a baby not to survive. Back when the worst thing that ever happened to me was having to wait 30 days before bringing my daughter Haley home from the NICU. Back when my heart was scarred, but still whole.
Now, I know too much. I know too many truths. I know too much heartache.
My cemetery routine is different than it first was. I've adopted more dead babies, as morbid as that may sound. But I pray if this world keeps on spinning for years after I'm gone, someone will come show Harlynn love this side of heaven. Just as I'm showing to Baby Rebecca, and those nearby her.
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