Sunday, November 29, 2009
The Littlest of Angels
Doesn’t it always seem that whenever you go looking for something, especially in cemeteries, something else finds you? I had actually set out to explore a lost cemetery that I had heard about. When I arrived to get the map that the young man at a store had told me he would make for me, he told me that he had not had the time to make it because he had forgotten about Thanksgiving and Black Friday being this week. I have to say that I was disappointed…for about 30 seconds... so, on to unplanned plan B!
There is always a cemetery that I haven’t explored with my new camera. We ended up at a cemetery that was once in the country and is now right next to an interstate bypass. I didn’t know what I was looking for so, as usual, something found me: cemetery angels...all shapes and sizes...some joyous and hopeful … some contemplating their loss. But one in particular silently reached out and touched my heart. It was this smallest of angels sitting in the grass beside a grave crying his little eyes out. He is the little angel who you will see in the pictures accompanying this story.
I don’t know how long this littlest of angels has been grieving over this grave but, I feel as if it has been an eternity. I suppose all of us who love cemeteries may sometimes feel a little jaded. Maybe not jaded, just more aware of the monuments to life instead of what a cemetery really is.. To me, a cemetery is a place that a living, loving human being has chosen with the utmost care as the final resting place for the ones whom they have loved, adored and cherished. I spend hours looking for and photographing angels but just could not stop thinking about this littlest of angles sitting all alone, weeping. I had found cemetery angels to write about. Lots and lots of them and was going to come home and post their photos and stories to my blog. Somehow the word blog sounds harsh and crude, although it is how we communicate our thoughts these days. I suppose that sometimes it takes something small and unexpected to really teach each of us to stop and ponder the real meaning of life on this earth.
Having helped hundreds and probably thousands of families through their most difficult moments I have seen people sometimes puts blinders on as to how much they are loved and how very much they will be missed. So many times we say “just put me in a pine box and bury me” not really wanting to face how much pain and true sorrow those we leave behind will feel. Most of the time we feel the need to protect our loved ones from feeling pain and sorrow over us. Or maybe we will be feeling pain and sorrow in leaving behind those whom we love? We have to admit that to ourselves, it is hard and it is painful to think about death but, it is real. Ignoring it or making light of it will not make it not happen, it will just make us loose so many precious moments in time. How many times have we seen people whose home has just been destroyed, hunting and picking through the remains merely looking for photographs? We have all seen them on the news holding a charred frame close to their heart. Why would we then deny ourselves and our loved ones the photographs, the “Kodak moments” if you will, of the rest of our lives by making light of the fact that someone who loves us will be that smallest of grieving angels sitting by our graves with their little hands over their eyes weeping their little hearts out?
When I got home tonight I opened an email from my dear friend, Jim, in Utah..in it he says "It is hard to believe that it is almost over. I spent time with my parents. I believe the Lord is preparing me for the time when we are separated. It is so hard for me to see my Dad slipping away physically and mentally." It is with love and caring that I write about it in the same story as the littlest weeping angel...The sorrow in my friend’s words illustrates perfectly what I have been trying to say. When we think about our years of life well spent here on this wondrous earth, we really never think about them slowly winding down to months, then days, then minutes and then slipping forever into eternity...but, we should...We need to stop and realize that we cannot stop the pain and sorrow that those who love us dearly will feel and it is selfish for us to take that away from them.. In that sorrow and grief lies the true depth that we loved and were loved. After all isn’t that the greatest of gifts that God has given us.... except for eternal life?