Monday, May 28, 2007

What I learned this weekend

If you've heard me talk at length before you may have heard me say I get more story ideas over Memorial Day weekend than the entire rest of the year. Attribute it to my morbid curiosity if you will, but I love visiting cemeteries. The older, the better. Between my husband, my father-in-law, and me, we travel to several cemeteries in rural southern Ohio to visit the graves of some of the more important people in our lives who have gone on.

Warranting a visit on Memorial Day weekend is quite an honor I suppose. It isn't possible to visit every departed loved one. Some graves are too far away and the trip isn't feasible. Or there just isn't enough hours in the day. So we visit grandparents, my husband's mother, a brother and sister who died in infancy, my nephew who died when he was seven, a beloved uncle, and various great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and those whose relationship to us we aren't exactly sure of.

Some of the graves I visit year after year belong to people who aren't related to me and who died before I was ever born. Certain headstones prick my curiosity and won't let me be. Today I read a marker belonging to a baby who was laid to rest next to his parents. He was born on his parents' first anniversary in 1957 and died three months later. His parents went on to have 3 more children. Another infant was born and died on May 31, 1897. His young mother joined him in death two weeks later. Another baby died on her first birthday in 1901, which also happened to be Christmas Eve.

None of these stories are unique. With the help of modern medicine, it is a rarity for a couple in America to lose a child in the first few years of life. But not in 1901 or even in 1957. Many mothers knew what it was like to bury a child she loved and nurtured in her womb for nine months. Sadly, the next morning she had to get up and cook breakfast, milk the cows, gather the eggs, and finish a hundred other chores just like any other morning. She didn't have the luxury of microwave meals to tide the rest of the family over until she was able to rise out of her bed and drawing her remaining children to her bosom.

As a writer, I think on these things and wonder how these young women and families survived the hardships that were everyday occurrences for them. I wish I could document every story for they deserve to be told. Memorial Day is a time to remember our fallen heroes and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we might enjoy the freedoms we often take for granted.

But I can't help remembering the everyday heroes who put their staggering pain aside for the best interests of their families. I don't know if I could've been as strong as these hardy women, and the men too, who got up the next morning and went on with their lives after the ultimate loss. They didn't have therapists and books and hardship leave from work. Life went on and so did they.

If not for the grace of God...

Wishing each of you a blessed and prosperous week.


1 comment:

  1. I can't imagine losing a child. When I think of my special guy how he is still around after moments in ambulances, ERs, children's ICUs. God bless those moms who have grieved a loss of a child.