So there we were again. Not to bury this time, but to remember. After the kids came home from school and we finished our tea, we went to the cemetery and walked to her grave again. With a fake-birthday cake made of stone, just as one of our children had proposed. And a babypink candle in the shape of a ‘1’. The cake was actually a thrift-box so we used the slot for a candle stand. We lightened the candle and all of us hold a sparkler while I read the poem I wrote earlier that day out loud:
A year ago she was born
We didn’t hear her voice
Today we remember her life so short
Mostly hidden from our sight
We are glad she existed
Grateful for what God did in our hearts
Her life was not in vain
She means something to us, and to God
Amanda: wanted and loved
switched earth for heaven
She went before us,
she is where she has to be
and when we die later,
she too will welcome us.
One of children cried. Another started to throw some little stones around. And then another came with arms full of daffodils and cried out proudly: ‘Look mum! These still have their roots!’ hoping these would last while planting them on Amanda’s grave. Scoop and rake where brought along and two of our children started digging and planting fervently. My Swedish friend told me that in Swedish daffodils were called ‘Easter lilies’ so daffodils are now also related to Amanda as her name is fully Susan Amanda and Susan means ‘lily’.
After everyone did what her or she wanted to do, we walked back to our car and drove to a restaurant. To celebrate the day of birth of our third daughter. Without her being present. Very strange. But also very good to do. And also very strange.
Tomorrow it will be a year ago that she was buried: the closing of a very intense week of welcoming and saying goodbye and the deep hole after that. Literally and as a matter of speaking. ‘We are still combing the beach’, my Love said while we took a long walk on her birthday, a year after. And that’s it, all though I’ve found out that faith, hope and love will be there always, even though we don’t feel that all the time.
These words in my poem: ‘and when we die later, she too will welcome us’, I really mean them. I always looked forward to meeting Jesus, my savior who is risen from the dead. But now there is an extra dimension to that. We will see each other again. It took a while before I was convinced of that. The weeks after her death I was so confused. But now I am sure of it. Death does not have the final word. Remembering is more than looking back to how things were. I am also looking ahead. To what is to come.
First published in Dutch on March 26, 2018