Final 2

Tomorrow the tombstone will be placed on the grave of our little girl. The time has finally come. At this moment nothing on her grave is readable anymore. Even the letters on the temporary stone can no longer be distinguished. We put off choosing a stone for a long time and then we was a delay in the process. In the end we had to sort out everything all over again. But now it is done. We selected a stone type and color, chose the way in which the soil has to be divided, a text, a font and finally a font color.

The message that the stone has been made and will be placed does a lot to me. I hate the idea that tough workers are going to pour concrete on my child’s grave. Because that has to be done first. Concrete is covering the place where she lies. Our precious girl.

It makes her even more inaccessible.

The lady who helped us choose everything concerning the gravestone asked if we would like to be there when the stone will be laid. I thought back to when we buried her and how I had to keep myself from doing irrational things, like wanting to climb back into the hole to get my child out and take her home with me. I fought that urge for weeks. I kept thinking: ‘How can I leave her alone in that cold?’

I don’t like to think about the fact that my daughter is laying there. So I decided to not be there when the stone is placed. Still, I have the feeling that I should be there. It’s like when my other kids go through something important or bad. In those times you pack yourself back together and just come along to assist your child in what it has to undergo, whether you can take it or not. You don’t leave your child alone.

But this child does not need this. She is safe in the arms of her Heavenly Father, as we wrote on her stone. She doesn’t need her mother to come over. She doesn’t need her mother to be there when her place is made beautiful. She doesn’t need anything from me.

A sob wells up. The craving for my little girl is still there. The desire to be there for her, to care for her, to stand up for her remains. Tomorrow the gravestone will be placed and she finally has a beautiful place with her name written on it legibly. With words that remind me and everyone who comes there that there are eternal arms around us.

It was the last thing we could do, I wrote almost two years ago. And now the time has come. Tomorrow the stone will be placed and the grave will be closed for good.

First published in Dutch on November 21, 2019

This is how it looked after the stone was placed. The text means: ‘From mommy’s belly straight into the arms of her heavenly Father.’ And then: ‘From old God is a hiding place. His arms carry you forever.’

Final

This week it was time to choose a gravestone. We had postponed to do this for quite some time. And now that we started to search for one, this appears to be a process too. At this moment, there is a temporary wooden plank on the grave, lovingly and beautifully made by our eldest daughter. But wind and rain are affecting it, making it less readable. Something permanent needs to replace it. Something final. What a horrible word that is.

The last couple of days, before we went to the stonemason, I was restless. Busy, busy, busy, alternated with Netflix. As long as I did not have to dwell by what I was feeling. But in the meantime I was restless, petulant, not really myself. That does not add well to the atmosphere at home, but only that morning, the morning that we were about to go, I could finally sat myself down and quietly write and by that find out what is really going on.

It is the last thing we can do. It is the last thing that needs to be done for her. And maybe that is the reason why this weighs so heavy on me. I don’t want to do this.

I don’t want to do this.

I don’t want to do this. While I allow the feelings to come up. The feelings this awareness brings to the surface, again that feeling of huge resistance comes up. Resistance against that what is so obvious but what I apparently still cannot and do not want to accept. She is not here anymore and she will never come back. We buried her body knowing that we will see her again when Jesus returns or when we ourselves die. But here we will not see each other anymore and realizing this again hurts so much that I can barely breathe. This is breath taking in a very negative way and what can I do about it? I want to scream, kick, curse, punch, but I know of course that it won’t help in any way. It won’t solve, change or take away the pain.

We need to do this and again I speak firmly to myself, trying to bring my emotions and brains at the same level by writing, giving words, reasoning. It doesn’t really ease the pain. But by writing about it, it gets more clear and that what is unreachable comes more within reach so I can deal with it better.

Words are really essential in this process of accepting what has happened. When I give words to what I feel, unravel by describing it, I find out what’s really going on inside. And when I read it again, I can cry over it, I can begin to accept that this is a part of the big ball of grief that needs to be taken in. I can process, I can weave it into my life. Allowing others to read it, means I acknowledging that this exists and of course I also hope that others can benefit from it in their own journey through grief or supporting others in their journey.

I didn’t expect this choosing of a gravestone would be so challenging. That it would be this painful. But now that I think about it, it makes so much sense. Putting a stone on the grave is like putting a lid on something or like closing the book. It reminds me of putting a dot after a sentence or press send when you signed your email. It symbolizes closing, finishing off. You put a stone (something that can endure the weather and the wind) on a grave and you try to put words on it that describe who the person was to you to mark where she has been laid down to rest. And then you walk away. You’re shutting it down, make it final. The grave. The chapter. But not your heart. That would be too final.

First published in Dutch on February 1, 2018