Why I Visit My Child’s Grave
After 26 Years, I Still Do
Alexa’s grave is in a lovely spot of the cemetery called Devotion East. If it’s been too long since my last visit, I look for the sign because so many graves are placed in that area that it’s sometimes hard to find. Also, unless a grave has a distinctive marker, after several years, they tend to look alike, the flat marble stones with bronze plaques weathered from years of sun, wind, and rain. I know it’s just north and east of the Royal Poinciana tree, so that helps, too.
Some might ask, “Why go there? She isn’t there.” Some also might wonder, “Why, after all this time, do you still visit the grave? It’s not like anything is different.”
I know she isn’t there. I also know that not much will have changed each time I visit. The Poinciana might be a bit taller, the grass might be encroaching the stone a bit more. The metal might need more than a touch of Brasso to bring back its shine. But she will still be gone from the land of the living. And I will still stand, grieving parent, at the foot of her grave.
Some might note that our spiritual connection transcends the grave and that I can commune with her love and light and wisdom at any time. I know that’s true because I have experienced and continue to experience those connections on a most profound level.
I know I don’t need to visit Alexa’s grave to feel close to her or to feel connected to her in some ways. But in other ways I do need to visit her grave. The connection during my busy life is often fleeting. I see a photo, I hear a song, I share a memory. I weep a bit. Yes, because even after all these years, the sadness doesn’t go away. And I know it never will.
However, those photos, songs, memories, sharing with family and friends often are fleeting. They come during the course of a day, during the course of a life I continue to live without her. For the most part I live it well, in spite of that longing that does not get fulfilled and will not.
I visit Alexa’s grave because it’s a time to pause. It’s not a fleeting moment of a memory. It’s not the melody of Tiny Dancer coming into my ears and heart when I know she’s contacting me, telling me to listen up, to pay attention.
|The Royal Poinciana casts a cooling shade on Alexa's grave.|
I visit Alexa’s grave because when I do, it’s easy to put aside all distractions. The cemetery is quiet. It’s calm. The Royal Poinciana casts a cooling shade on the grave. The grass springs light beneath my feet. I note that someone else loves and misses her, too, because regardless of how much time has passed since my last visit, someone, perhaps more than one someone, makes certain that the vase is always filled with flowers.
I visit Alexa’s grave because at that time, I feel connected to her in ways that are sometimes more solid than others. Perhaps it is because of that pause, that time out of my regular life, my routine, my list, my commitments. Most often, it’s just me there, remembering the love, remembering the joy, and feeling that short time when she was here with us.
I visit Alexa’s grave to talk to her, to thank her, to simply be. I know I can do that at other times, but I often do not. I visit Alexa’s grave to take the space away from present time, to have a few moments with just a mom and a little girl, whom I miss and love.
I visit Alexa’s grave because when I turn to walk away, I am ready to embrace life more fully, to love more fully, to express, to be aware. I visit Alexa’s grave because it’s a fine reminder to cherish everything I still have.