"Mom, do I have to throw my bouquet at the reception?" my daughter wondered a few weeks before her wedding.
"You can do whatever you feel is best, nothing in set in stone." I reassured her.
"I'd like it to be placed at Dan's grave." she said.
"How very beautiful .... and just like her" I thought, and then gulped ...... some things are set in stone!
Nothing can prepare a mother or father for seeing their child's name and dates set in stone. It is an extremely emotional moment. For a sibling, this concrete (or shall I say granite) sign of life's fragility and our mortality can be too much to bear.
I can put my fingers in the letters, numbers,celtic cross, and knots which run across the top, and I do. I can feel his name there en"grave"d on that gray slab, yet I still look at his headstone with a certain amount of disbelief. In the silence of the cemetery, I try to let the beauty of his life and all that he brought to us sink deep within my soul. Dan 's life has changed me. His coming in and his going out of this world has left an impression which will never dissipate; in fact in some ways, who Dan is and what his life here was all about, becomes clearer to me as time moves on.
One of the hardest aspects of our son's death has been seeing our seven other children suffer. At times I literally feel as if the pain of it will crack my heart wide open. Trying to help each of them continue to develop in a positive way and have hope with regard to their own futures has been of primary concern for my husband and me; as well as keeping our marriage healthy. After nearly four years, I can say that it is worth all the effort required to struggle in these areas. If we don't, we run the risk of compounding our grief with the added loss of so much potential for good and diminishing the possibility of joy coming out of our sorrow.
The inscription on the headstone reads, "I go to prepare a place for you ..... that where I am, you may also be." (John 14:2), which were Jesus' words to his disciples just before His passion. Saddened by His imminent departure they wanted to know where and why He had to go. Aren't those the same questions we have regarding our loved ones? I believe that just as Jesus prepares our place, our loved ones do also. They are powerful intercessors with God on our behalf and never grow weary of desiring our good.
Our daughter's action was a beautiful sign that Dan continues to be part of her life; an example of what it means to truly love each other. We are not forgotten just because we are not together physically, and we can still show our love in deeds even though we are separated.
"Daniel, pray and prepare a place for us."