Thursday, March 9, 2017

Visits with Lily

Wanted to capture defining moments from the past year, and thought I'd begin in an unusual spot, the cemetery. Lily is buried in the infant section of a large, Catholic cemetery about thirty minutes from our house. We laid her to rest on March 1, in the middle of a blizzard. I remember Danny carrying her to the gravesite, Fr. Joe saying her final blessings, and Blaise voluntarily kneeling down in the snow next to her.
Because Lily isn't here, I am grateful to do anything for her, as a mother would. One of those tasks was ensuring her headstone was just right. It's very simple but each option I deliberated over; the wording, shade, finding the perfect little angel.

The first time I returned to the cemetery, it was spring. Kelly had cut a tulip from her garden for Rosie to lay on Lily's grave.  When we arrived at the cemetery, I had forgotten how vast it is. I could find Lily's general area, and knew she was close to a tree.  It would be tricky though to find her since the headstone hadn't yet arrived. With that, Rosie and I unloaded and started walking. After ten minutes of searching, I spotted a tree, and near it a patch of brown dirt, signaling it was Lily. Tears, tears, tears. As we approached the grave, I happened to glance down, and burst into laughter. The baby buried directly at Lily's feet is nicknamed "McLovin" on the tombstone. Not joking. So now whenever we visit Lily we first pass McLovin and have a smile, before the tears. He must be a fun baby friend to have.
I wonder if Lily knows about her crazy sister? Rosie is the independent, self-assured little girl I always dreamt of for a daughter, but oh, can she test the limits. Sometimes she and I go to visit Lily together, while the boys are in school. We had to talk to Rosie about not stomping on graves. (Yes, she did. and laughed.) We also had to teach the kids not to pick anything up, as there are loads of toys and trinkets scattered around.  
This particular day, as I turn to surveil Rosie, she has picked up a small, ceramic Mary statue and is carrying it around. Annoyed, I say, "Rosie, you set that down now!" Looking me straight in the eye, she extends her arm, opens her fist, and drops the statue onto the headstone beneath her, smashing it to pieces. Lily, did you laugh at our mother daughter cemetery brawl?
It feels most right visiting Lily when there's a blanket of snow. It reminds Tommy and I of the day we buried her. We snuck out two days before Christmas to bring Lily a little poinsettia. When we arrived at the cemetery, the ground was completely white. Since the markers are all flat and close together, we knew it would be tricky to find her. We walked out to the tree we know she is close to, Tommy picked a spot, dug his glove down and said "well, let's start here." There, in that exact spot, we looked down and saw pink granite. It was Lily. We laughed and burst into tears. It was the greatest Christmas gift. It proved to be even more remarkable, as we sought to uncover McLovin, and couldn't find him after 15 minutes. Dad always knows where to find you, Lily.