In Memoriam

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.
In Memoriam, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Some years ago my wife and I lost the pregnancy of what would have been our first child together. Since we were not insignificantly far along, it was a sad and somewhat traumatic time. We decided to hold a small funeral for the remains of the baby, and a family friend even made a tiny coffin.

It reminds me of a Hemingway story.  Our priest came over, and we had a little service in our backyard for the child we came to call Jude. After burying Jude, the ground looked like this.

But this is not meant to be a sad story. Several years later, we’ve had two glorious children, with a third on the way. At 22 months, the current youngest, Claire, is completely unaware of the passing of what could have been her older sibling.  At a recent family gathering, she wandered over to Jude’s resting place and sat down on the rock that is still there. What follows is a sequence of unposed pictures of Claire sitting over there. These are presented in the same order they unfolded.

We first noticed Claire when she was just sitting there, appearing to contemplate the ground.  There was a lot going on around the house at that moment, and she’d been sitting here for a while before we saw her.

Next, she felt and played with the ground.  It didn’t seem like much at the time, but in retrospect, it’s kind of strange.

Then she looked up at us, almost like she felt something she didn’t know how to articulate.

And then she . . . well, it looks to me like she’s discussing things with a higher, unseen power, but I could just be applying my own interpretation. Remember, this whole sequence happened without any prompting. Notice that she now has the dirt she was touching on her face and clothes.  And she seems fairly content.

And to top it off, all of this took place on . . . Memorial Day.

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