From my memoir:
“Woodville is the only cemetery Dad and I work in with a section just for babies. It’s not marked as such with a sign or archway. No arrows point you there. But you know. You know by the sudden pattern of flat, tiny markers that break the landscape of knee-high granite tombstones. You know by pinwheels blurring whirls of primary colors in the wind. You know by the lamb statues that anchor a corner of a stone. You know by toys left there, teddy bears and dolls and cars. You know by balloons tethered to wooden posts stuck in the ground. The markers of a couple of dozen babies lie here, filtering in and around a few bigger gravestones of adults that form a sort of protectorate, ersatz aunts and uncles and grandparents who keep watch.”
This one gets me. The mother had a baby boy in August, who died that day. The mother must have become pregnant again almost right away, for the next child was born in June. It, too, died on the day it was born.
I look at the baby graves and see the parents.
Amy Kortuem said:
This section of your memoir was chilling. And beautiful. And your Dad saying: “Don’t touch the baby graves.” Oh.
My grandmother’s first child, a girl, died shortly after birth. I remember being at Marysburg church for a family reunion when I was little and going out to the cemetery with Grandma. She didn’t say much about that tiny grave there under the pine trees at the edge of the field, but she didn’t have to. She went on to have 8 healthy beautiful children (including my Dad), but I’m sure she thought just as much about her first as she did every one of her live children.
Wow, to lose your first child. Imagine how nervous and scared she was when she had the next child. I’m sure she prayed and prayed and prayed for that one to be healthy.
Very moving photos to compliment such moving prose.
Thank you! I was inspired by my very good friend, Nicole Helget. She has some awesome photo stories on her blog:
Amy Kortuem said:
Yes, this one is beautiful, Rachael.
Lisa Simons said:
I remember your writing about this. Powerful.
Thank you. It’s one of those things that stands out from growing up in that environment.
Your post reminds me of how many broken hearts there are which we don’t know about. People so seldom talk about babies who died in infancy or even stillborn. It’s just not part of our culture, I guess.
Most definitely! I think sometimes people are fearful of sharing sadness because 1) they don’t want to make others sad and 2) they worry about how others will perceive them. So there’s a tendency to keep things to ourselves, which often doesn’t do anyone any favors.
Mother wrote in a memory book that one of her favorite poems was “The First Snowfall” by James Russell Lowell. Thinking it must be somewhat on the order ot Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”, I was startled to actually read the poem and realize that it must have made Mother think of her stillborn baby boy born in the month of June.