In the days that followed burying our sweet Emily, I had this desire to visit and spend time with her every day. I would bring out flowers from all of the beautiful arrangements we had received, from our home, to share with her. I did this until the flowers ran out. After the flowers wilted, I brought them home to add to our garden as fertilizer. I felt like I brought a little bit of our Emily home. I visited Emily every day, until one evening I was leaving to go to the cemetery, and it was after dinner time. And upon pulling out of the driveway, our two little boys were at the front door waving good-bye to me. I felt such guilt, and after I got on the road, I could hear Emily saying, “Go home. Be with my brothers. I am okay Mom.” So, I did. I continued to visit Emily every other day or so. And now I go up to the cemetery on a quiet Sunday morning or afternoon, and that is my set aside time to just be with her. Also, I just like checking on her, to make sure she is okay.
I have taken pictures of Emily’s grave every month since we have laid her to rest. Sometimes there is rain water, or snow. The grass was not there for a while, so it was dirt. And I knew where exactly she was buried. Once her headstone was put in, a couple of days before her due date, July 27th, I was there. And I took pictures of her stone being buried into the ground. The boys put out some pumpkins for her during Halloween this year. So, I took a picture of that. And of course, I took pictures at Christmas time. Not much changes, but I still have this want, to take pictures. As I was taking a picture the other day, I thought, “You would be about five months old now, and possibly crawling. I would be taking pictures of that.” So, this is my way of feeling close to my baby girl.
I clean her headstone with warm soapy water and a toothbrush when I see dirt on it. When there is snow covering her name, I brush it off with my gloves, and say, “That’s better.” During the thunderstorms in the summer, I would think of Emily and just hope that she was okay. In the winter months, I would recall my pink baby blanket I buried with her, and I would feel better knowing she had that to keep her warm. I do know that Emily is not there. Her body is. And she is in heaven. I know that. But, there is something still about it, as a parent, that you want to protect, and keep your baby safe and warm. I learned through the months that this is called, parenting from the grave.
After Emily’s funeral, I remember going up to see Emily, and one of the groundskeepers pulled me aside. He was the one that hand dug our baby’s grave. I kind of saw him as a dad, looking out for me. He said, “I know you come up here every day.” And he shared some stories of other parents that had lost their baby or child. He told me about a mother that lost her 20 year old son, and would come up to the cemetery to sleep on her son’s grave. One time, she was digging at his grave. My heart ached for her hearing that story. Before losing Emily, I would have thought, “Oh my goodness, she needs help.” But after burying Emily, I know that pain. That want to just have them with you again.
I remember the days before Emily’s funeral, I talked with our church’s choral director about a concern I had. I said, “I just do not know if I can close that casket and vault, knowing that will be it.” She said, “I know Anne. It will be very hard. But just know that your baby will always live and be in your heart.” And that is probably why on Emily’s headstone, we had “Forever in Our Hearts” written on there. There are some days where I could not get a chance to visit Emily, whether out-of-town, or under the weather, and I just know that she is in my heart, and always will be.