It is, undeniably sad, to buy flowers for your mother’s grave on Memorial Day. The store was filled with holiday revelers purchasing ice cream, hot dog buns and briquettes for their evening barbecues.

I felt alone.

Most of the day was spent in the yard– hauling dirt, cleaning the chicken coop, weeding, planting– the boys took breaks to whittle sticks into swords and stage battles (yes, even the big boys) and Mary drifted from weeding to circling her bicycle around the basketball court. Erik and I worked until our limbs ached and his arms were scorched with sunburn.

It was, as Erik said, exactly the sort of day my mom loved: improving our own little patch bit by bit, admiring the kids at play, long cold draughts of lemonade. Sometimes I wonder at this desire to create our own slice of paradise, but I find it soothing and satisfying. I am patient with my yard– “Ah, I’ll tackle that shade garden next year.” “Those petunias will fill in by September.” “The flower boxes will get hung someday.” My garden is the work of a lifetime, not of a season. Ever since man was cast out of the Garden of Eden we’ve been trying to create it anew.


The last rays of sunlight spread across the lawn as we drove through the cemetery. Flowers honoring loved ones dotted nearly every grave. Extended families sat around tombstones, some with a half dozen lawn chairs and blankets on the grass. And there were others, many others, solitary figures sitting on the grass with their foreheads pressed against a single headstone.

I wasn’t feeling particularly grief-stricken, but the simple act of placing flowers on my mother’s already well-adorned stone dropped me to my knees with sobs. The grass has yet to grow in around the edges and the fresh cuts of sod assured me that this was a recent loss, that my tears were legitimate.


And in grief, I am never alone.

May 30, 2010
June 2, 2010



  1. Tracy

    June 1, 2010

    Thank you for giving me the okay that my wild yard won’t get done this year…or next..or even in 2015.

    Beautiful post. Breathtaking cemetery. The love is abundant and clear.

  2. Tasha

    June 2, 2010

    Beautiful. You made me cry once again.

  3. Sue

    June 2, 2010

    What a wonderful thing to see so many loved ones remembered. I wish every cemetery were similarly adorned.


  4. andrea

    June 2, 2010

    beautiful Michelle.

  5. k hansen

    June 2, 2010

    Beautiful post. I felt the same when I visited my son’s grave.

  6. Kerri

    June 2, 2010

    Such a lovely post, Michelle. We felt the same at my husband’s father’s grave, and it’s been nearly three years since his death. It’s surprising that the grief can be still so fresh.

  7. Selwyn

    June 2, 2010

    Tears welling reading this.

    Luv you!

  8. Sage

    June 2, 2010

    Thank you. A lovely post, beautiful photo. Deep sentiment.

  9. Denise

    June 2, 2010

    In grief, in life, in everything… you (we) are never, never alone.

  10. Alyson (New England Living)

    June 3, 2010

    I love you and your amazing posts, Michelle! This was beautiful in so many ways.

Comments are closed.