by Sandy Fox
Rituals are part of life. When your child dies, they become even more important. For myself, I have a few rituals I follow to honor and remember my daughter. Today will be one of them.
Each time I leave town for more than just a weekend, as I will very soon, I go to the cemetery to see Marcy and clean off her grave. It makes me feel good. No one else cleans it like I do, and I always want it to shine and look good in case others come by to visit and pay their respects. I bring a scraper to scrape off the accumulated dirt and calcium that forms from rain and watering the area. I bring a brush to get into the embedded words on the stone. And I bring a cloth to wash and wipe it clean. Then I place new white silk flowers in the soft ground around the stone, the same type of flowers that her wedding bouquet was made of. It stays like that for about 3 months maximum, depending on weather conditions. I’ve noticed other stones in the cemetery look worn, old, and covered with mud. Obviously, many of these stones are not cared for by relatives or even friends. I am so tempted sometimes to go around and just wipe them, so that next to Marcy’s they will look good, but the thought eventually passes. I have asked my husband, then Marcy’s best friend (in that order) to take care of the stone after I am gone. It is important to me. Other occasions I definitely go to the cemetery are on her birthday and death date.
Her birthday is a simple affair. In addition to going to the cemetery, we go out for dinner to a nice restaurant, toast her life and wish she was here with us. I know some of her friends have done the same thing.
On Marcy’s death date I light a 24 hour candle and say a prayer, then go to the cemetery. Later in the day I take out the few boxes and look at what I have left of her life: the awards, the writings, the photos and the wonderful stories friends wrote about her and gave to me. I like reminiscing and thinking of all the joy she brought to me and others in her 27 years.
On her wedding anniversary my ritual is to take out the video of her wedding and watch it. Of course, she will never grow old or look old, but I do often wonder how she would look now as I watch it. I love seeing her personality and sense of humor shine though as she speaks on the video. Watching it always leaves me sad, and for days I think of nothing else. But it is something I must do to keep her close. A close friend of hers also gave me a composite video of the last few years of her life that I watch. It is beautiful. Those two videos are the only videos I have of her.
My rituals are simple, yet they satisfy me as best they can. Each of you can do whatever helps you remember, with love, your special child.
Sandy is the author of “I Have No Intention of Saying Good-bye”, 25 stories of how parents moved on with their lives after the death of their child. Visit Amazon or Barnes and Noble to order a copy