We hadn't been there on a Saturday in quite some time, and it was busier than usual, with lots of cars parked along the roads -- visitors, and preparations underway for a couple of funerals. As we parked near the columbarium structure where the urn containing Katie's ashes is interred, we noticed several other cars parked nearby, and small groups of people milling around.
A few more cars and people arrived -- about 20-25 people in all, including a couple of little girls clad in white dresses -- and a foreboding feeling came over me, as I realized exactly where they were all congregating.
Then we saw them begin to walk slowly in a procession toward the back of the section nearby, where the cemetery staff were waiting for them.
One man was carrying a very small white casket in his arms.
My heart sank. "Look," I whispered to dh. He looked. "Oh no," he said quietly, and his head dropped.
We both knew: they were in the Garden of Angels, the nearby section of the cemetery reserved for infant burials. When we visited the cemetery to make Katie's funeral arrangements, 24 years ago this summer, we were shown this section as an option for burial. All those tiny plots seemed unbearably sad, and we chose to purchase a niche for her in the nearby columbarium instead. (We later purchased a niche for ourselves in another columbarium structure nearby.)(All the niches in Katie's structure had long since been purchased.)
Over the 10+ years that we attended a local pregnancy loss support group -- first as clients, and then the as facilitators -- we came to know several families whose children were buried in the Garden of Angels. We would sometimes visit those tiny graves when we came to see Katie. We haven't walked over there in quite a while now, but the last time we did, we noticed how many more graves had been added over the years, how much further back towards the tree line the markers now extended.
We stood quietly watching, heads slightly bowed. "This brings me back a few years," dh said. "They have a long road ahead of them."
I briefly thought about walking over and introducing ourselves when the service was finished, telling them that we were so sorry for their loss, that we'd experienced something similar. That we'd survived, and they would too -- but it would take time. Lots of time.
But we had an appointment to keep, and we did not want to intrude on their grief, so raw and new. We left quietly.
But I haven't been able to get them out of my mind since then.
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.