This year however I did walk up to the cemetery...at dusk. I put Bella in the buggy and walked up the streets, up the sidewalks, to the place where the sidewalk ends...out of town and up to where the graves are. There weren't many people there - just headstones and flowers in the dimming daylight. The sunset settling on the horizon, and all the buried people standing, looking at it, invisibly and peacefully at the end of the day.
I walked on to "BabyLand" - the slightly twisted (in my view...I just can't shake the weird connotation) name for where the babies are all buried together. There they were, all the babies. Mine, Josie, still the newest one. Still no headstone. Which is depressing, but then again none of us has had the hundreds of dollars needed to throw at a headstone lately, so there she sits, with her grave marker and her iron pot for flowers. Just a little way back, the patch of earth, still cut out beneath the grass in a little oblong shape where they lowered her coffin into the ground. The headstone will come: we never did have insurance in case our baby died, you know? People don't. Whens it does come, when it gets put in, I want it to be meaningful.
So there we stand, and sit, respectively - Bella and I. I got the flowers out that I would be putting on Josie's grave, and gave them to Bella to look at - I thought it'd be nice to get a picture of her with the flowers. Of course, she immediately tried to eat them:
...and I was reminded of the continuity of life, once again. My first biological daughter lies in the ground beneath my feet. My second biological daughter is eating the flowers of my first daughter.
Sisters, together. A baby doing what she ought to be doing. I'd like to think Josie might have liked those flowers as well. She might have wanted to eat them too. Isobella certainly jabbered when we picked them out - jabbered and cooed and talked up a storm in the store, like a baby ought to. And you know, it was nice, sitting there on the ground, chuckling at my baby daughter drolling all over her sister's flowers. It was normal.
(I love my Bella. She makes my life so much better, every day. She makes everything twenty shades brighter: when I'm having a rough day, all I have to do is look in her direction and she lifts up my heart and allows me to live in the moment. Thank you, Bella - you are so beautiful.)
So, once I'd managed to uncurl her little fingers from the tissue paper, we put the flowers on Josie's grave. Here they are, in their place of honor...
Here is Bella, by her sister's grave. Significantly, this is the first time both of my children have been at the same place, at the same time. Poignant truths sometimes make up the fabric of my life... But I do remember though, walking back from the cemetery being quite angry with the decorating "rules." Grief doesn't have any damn rules - it does what it pleases. People ought to be allowed to decorate the graves of their loved ones just the way they like, stuff those rules. They can mow around the flowers I want to plant. One day, I am going to utterly flood every square inch of the cemetery that they can't get to, to mow, with wildflower seeds. Wildflower seeds for my baby.
My heart overflows with the love I have for them both. I'm so grateful to be a mother.