I'm the One, And It's Okay

I’m the one who visits my infant daughter’s grave.

Surprise. I found flowers there. And a stuffed toy. A blue Smurf. Wearing a red cap.   

An artificial autumn arrangement of yellow sunflowers and orange leaves. Standing tall in a stick-in-the-grass cemetery cup. Did someone come for her October birthday?

I’m the one who visits my infant daughter’s grave.

Once or twice a year. Always at Christmas. Then sometimes in summer, or maybe on her birthday, or mine on a sunny May morning near to Mother’s Day. 

I bring real flowers. Because she was.

Maybe my parents stopped by her burial place. But if so they would have visited my grandparents. But there were no flowers left with Grandma and Grandpa.

My parents might go to them without seeing her, but never the reverse.

Maybe someone from her father’s family, his other daughter perhaps? Might have gone to her dad’s grave and then to see her half-sister. That happened once on the first birthday or anniversary after he died. But there were no flowers left with him.

My stepdaughter might visit him without seeing her, but never the reverse.

An accident perhaps? The mower men with their tractors might have moved flowers and ornaments to cut the grass and trim around the grave markers. Maybe they replaced the decorations incorrectly. Most likely that was how it went.

I’m the one who visits my infant daughter’s grave.

This time with conflicted emotions. Glad someone remembered her. Curiosity at who it was. Territoriality. An unknown, unauthorized visitor had stood so near. Sadness, it might have been an accident.

Confused. The flowers. The soggy toy. The multiple, simultaneous feelings. I wrote to a friend, ‘without a winner but all squabbling for air time.’ Maybe squabbling wasn’t the right word. More like babbling. Look at me. Each feeling demanded attention.

I was tempted to toss the arrangement away, certain it wasn’t hers. I don't like artificial. And I’m her mother. All that’s left for me to do is mind her grave and keep it neat, and rub the bronze plate with steel wool so her name shines in the sun. The way I imagine she would shine.

But if the toy and flowers belonged elsewhere and a family came to call, they would be denied the chance to reclaim their misplaced love.

Or maybe they would think I’d tried to steal it for my girl.

If someone came and remembered my girl I couldn’t discard a tender hearted offering of flowers and a rain soaked, muddied Smurf. With his dirty red cap. 

I left them both. I placed my wreath, with its silky gilt-edged red Christmas bow, right below her name.

I asked around, those who might have thought of her, if they'd visited her grave. They nodded no, as I surmised would be the case.

And though I’d written to my friend no one emotion clamored to be heard above the din of all the rest, I realized it wasn’t true. I’d wanted a secret someone to remember. Disappointment rose until sadness won the moment.

I knew all along what was most likely true.

It was okay. At Christmas I best understand sadness is a spotlight for our joy.

It was okay. Life moving forward the way it was designed.

For all the families whose children rest under sparse branches of cemetery trees, we still breathe. We live in the rhythms of the carols we sing this time of year, for those are the rhythms of life.

I’m the one who visits my infant daughter’s grave. 

And it really is okay. 


  1. Beautiful, Pam, and really okay.

  2. I come here, looking for insight and wisdom and words beyond my own, I am never disappointed, I am always inspired, motivated and now I am moved, deeply.

    Thank you for sharing and for being such a positive force in this world!

  3. Merry Christmas, Jenina. Thanks for your encouragement and your advocacy. And as always, thanks for stopping by.

  4. beautiful, mz. pam. and smurfy.


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