This was inspired by another blog written by a friend about a marmalade jar. He and his wife were walking in the snow in Michigan and they came across an old cemetery. There was this one little lamb stone with a marmalade jar and fresh water with some carnations in it. The water wasn’t frozen yet, so they knew they’d just missed the person. What shocked them the most was that the stone was from 67 years earlier! Here is what that story inspired in me:
She stood there, staring; unaware of the misty rain’s cold, nor the winds playing in her hair. She seemed to be present in that moment; alive and breathing as she stood on the edge of where the stones were. She was not, however. She was reliving days–.so many days before; to a time when life was full and dreams complete. There were three days in particular; days she clung to in her mind and heart because if she did this, perhaps her grip would be strong enough. Perhaps today would be the day that she could will they and
herself back to a time before her heart broke. Before…
Her hands barely felt the biting wind, but as she began to move she felt a slight motion against her skin. The faint sweet fragrance of the carnations caught her nostrils and she was reminded of this time; this era. It all came back with its black flood of lostness. She swallowed and her eyes lost their view of those perfect days and became focused on where she was in the here and now.
She walked among the stones, moving forward at last; touching this one or that. Almost hearing the voices of times long past. The carvings revealed stories of deaths and these stone erections represented the desire for others to know their loved ones. It was a way to share their loss; feel with them; grieve with them. She glided through them all with familiarity and grace. She’d been here before; over and over again. It was impossible to let go of this ritual. It was as much a part of her as that time was long ago; as much as that tiny little heart had been of her own heart.
She knew this turn in the path she always took. She knew what her eyes would show her and in the moment she saw it, it was always the same. That sharp intake of breath and brightness of the pain she felt as her eyes found that smallest little lamb stone. Here, in this ground instead he lay. Instead of in her arms that’d been so happy to feel him; so happy to memorize every moment of the brief time he was able to stay with her. He was there in his warmth and soft infant smell; with his small hands and small perfect feet. But he’d not been able to linger. His lungs were not made to breathe the air of this time and age and he slowly slipped away and left her.
She remembered every feature, every noise, every smell and every heartbeat still to this day, 67 years later. And each day she came here, she tried anew to make her mind and heart strong enough to will it to a different outcome. But she could not.
The ache of those three precious days must stay with her still.
She removed the simple jar from her coat pocket and placed it at the base of her little one’s stone. Next, she removed the water bottle and poured it’s contents into the glass jar. At last, she released the carnations into the cold liquid; it was complete. He’d smelled to her like the sweetest, lightest of these flowers, and she left them here because it was almost as if she could smell that perfect infant smell one more time in her mind as well as the here and now.
“Hello my little one. I miss you. I love you.”
A single tear fell against the glass of the marmalade jar. She touched the stone, the earth where he lay; sending him little thoughts of memories she’d liked to have lived with him and hopes and dreams she’d held for his little life.
At last, the cold began to intrude and her knees began to stiffen and hurt. It was time to go. And she walked away again, through the path of stones; and drove away.