Every day on my way to work I pass a rather large cemetery. Sometimes I can see gravediggers doing their job and I know that somebody will be buried that day. If I drive by during a service and I see the mourners hugging, kissing & crying it breaks my heart a little bit. I feel for them. I feel for their families.

A few years ago I was driving past the cemetery and I saw a women laying next to one of the graves on her side with one arm propping up her head. She appeared to be talking to the grave. Talking to the grave as one would to someone laying in bed next to them. It was a very intimate moment. I can just imagine her lover, or a close relative, like her mother, buried there and it struck me as so sad – so touching, but just so, so SAD – that she had to come here, to where the soul’s vessel was laid to rest, to feel close to her loved one. I only saw her there once.

Over the last several weeks I’ve noticed something strange at the cemetery. Well, not strange per se, but it caught my eye and has me intrigued.

First I saw a small group of people, 3 or 4, sitting on a blanket on the grass nearest the road at the cemetery having a picnic. I didn’t think they were mourners. I thought maybe they had stopped there looking for a convenient place to sit under the trees and eat. Something like that.

Then I noticed they were there again. And again. And a grave near them was growing a small shrine of sorts – flowers, flags, the usual thing.

Last week I noticed several people around the grave. Maybe 5-7 people. And balloons. And more trinkets.

And then I noticed a couple of little teddy bears had been placed around the grave.

Now I can’t stop thinking about it. Through the course of my day I will naturally drive past the grave 2-4 times. Sometimes the family is there and sometimes they aren’t, but the little shrine is always there.

I want to know the story. Whose grave is that? Is it a young child? What happened? I see a young woman there the most – is she the child’s mother? AND WHAT HAPPENED?

I’ve wanted to stop and look at that grave but I almost feel like it would be an invasion of their privacy to do so.

It tugs at my heart every day. I even thought about taking a different route to work – but I think seeing that cemetery every day, and the people in it, inspires an appreciation for my life and maybe fills me with a sense of, what? Humanity, maybe? Every day on my way to work.

An acquaintance of mine posted on Facebook the other day that we should all hug our kids more and longer. I found out he and his wife are going through something quite traumatic and personal. Maybe that’s why this grave is haunting me so much this week.

I don’t know if I’ll ever stop to look. I don’t know if I really want to know. Maybe I WILL just hug my kids a little tighter and enjoy their company a little more – BECAUSE I STILL CAN.

And so can you.

EDITED TO ADD:

Mystery solved, I’m upset, angered and altogether put-out, to say. I was having a lovely time with my son on Sunday. We had to run some errands. I drove past the cemetery on the way to the shops and saw the mourners there. On the way back they were gone. So I said, “Son, I’m going to take a detour here to look at a grave,” and I pulled into the cemetery. He was very curious so I explained about seeing the shrine and mourners. I warned him that it could be a child’s grave and that he could stay in the car if he wanted. No, he said, he wanted to go with me. So we did. I almost wish I hadn’t. I mean, now I know – but I almost wish I didn’t.

Born Nov 2007 and died May 2011. She was 3 1/2. My son asked me why she died and I didn’t know. He was very curious so I told him I would see if I could find out. I quickly Googled her name on my phone and, boom, a ton of results. I saw the first result and instantly knew who she was from the headlines back in May. She died very tragically.

I lied to my son. I told him she had been sick with a disease and he peppered me with questions the whole way home. He said, “I thought kids couldn’t die. How come she died? Can other kids die?” I tried to explain about accidents and illnesses and how they can affect anybody. Parenting fail – I probably should not have taken my son with me. On the other hand, he needs to know that sometimes people die when we aren’t prepared. I just didn’t have it in me to explain to him that sometimes they are the victims of violence as well.

When we got home I pulled my husband into our bedroom and told him the whole story. Then I sobbed for that little girl while he patted my back.

I’m happy I know where she’s laid to rest. I can drive by and know exactly why her mom sits at her grave every day. Every single day my heart will break when I drive past that grave. Every single day.

If you want the whole story you can get it here, but I’m warning you – don’t read this if you are easily affected. It stays with you.

RIP little Natasha.

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6 thoughts on “The Mourners

  1. This is a friend of mine that you are talking about. I met her in an online support group for grieving parents. I just want to say that your support for her is immeasurable. As parents who have lost children we live everyday knowing that we will never see our children grow and do the things they should have done. I can tell you, if it were a story about me, I would be so touched. I already am. I am sure she is also. Again thank you!!!

    1. Thank you for reading and replying my post. When I wrote this post it wasn’t intended to reach the family that I was observing/writing about, but I’m glad now that it did. I still drive by Natasha’s grave and think of her every day.

  2. I lost my 22 year old son in June of 2010. He left behind a 3 year old daughter who now asks Santa for something nice to put on her daddy’s grave, who goes around to all the other graves saying a prayer for them and picking wild flowers to put on her daddy’s grave. She will see one which is a child and she will put a flower on their grave also. Sadly she knows to much about death but it has taught her great compassion. Take your son to pick out some special angel or butterfly and together put it on her grave. It is something he will always remember and help him understand that compassion goes beyond life. There is also a book called Heaven is Real and there is a child’s version of it. It is beautifully done and a real story of a young boy who died and was brought back. He discribed Heaven and what he had seen there. It is always better to teach the children about death before they have someone close to them die for it isn’t so scary then.

    Prayers go out to you and your son and to the family of Natshia.

  3. Baby Tasha was my daughter’s best friend, and according to her she always will be. She has allowed herself to make new friends, but at the tender age of 4 has come to the conclusion that Tasha is her best friend, period. It has now been just over 9 months, and although my daughter’s counselor instructed her to visit Tasha less, she still picks out presents, flowers. etc. and places it at Tasha’s resting place. A lot of hearts were broken that day in May, including a 4 year old. My thoughts and prayers are constantly with Ophelia and her boys ❤

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