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Sunday
Apr052015

Memorial Stones

Forty eight plus years ago Chuck and I lost our only daughter. We buried her in the Waggener-Williams plot in a historic Vicksburg cemetery. Her body rests there but she is with the Lord, well cared for.

For some reason over the past few weeks my heart was grieving again. My thoughts were often on Catherine and wondering how our family dynamics might have been different had she lived. Wondering how she would have felt about different situations in our lives and what she would have said or done.

This week with Easter approaching and our family gathering yesterday to celebrate, a desire to visit the gravesite and take flowers became very strong. I had not been since our move back to MS. So Good Friday we stopped in to Hobby Lobby and got what we needed.

Yesterday my thoughts were more on what she never had to experience. She has only known love. She never knew pain, heartache or betrayal. She never had any dispute with us as parents and we never disappointed her. She never was tempted and never felt failure. All she has known is good and beauty, she did not know evil or ugliness. I am sure she never had a tear on her beautiful cheeks and much laughter has passed through her lips.

This morning we realized we had a short window to achieve this desire before the rain storm came, and of course it would hit Vicksburg first. So we watched Easter service online, ate breakfast and headed out.

I had prayed the last few days that the Lord would do something special on this visit and give me peace. I shared this with my friend, Joy, who has lost two babies and she told me she would pray.

We arrived at the gravesite with about an hour to visit before the rain. I stepped out of the car and headed up the hill. I first noticed two stones on the top of the first graves of Chuck's grandparents. "That's strange" I spoke out loud. Then as my eyes panned the 8 gravesites in the plot I saw they all had stones of different sizes on the tombstones. My heart leaped. "Chuck",I screamed. "Look at all the stones!" He looked at me puzzled and I told him, "this is what they do in Jerusalem". They take stones and leave them instead of flowers. I looked around and no other gravesite at the cemetery that I could see had stones just ours. i asked Chuck if the stones were there when he came and repaired the falling wall in the late fall 2014.  He said they were not there.

Chuck told me to notice they were not just any stones. Some were granite and some were geodes. All different shapes, sizes and colors. All of the headstones had one stone except his great uncle's that had several.

I looked up why stones and this is what I found. --Rabbi Simkha Weintraub, Rabbinic director of the New York Jewish Healing Center offered another traditional interpretation: "The Hebrew word for ‘pebble’ is tz’ror – and it happens that this Hebrew word also means ‘bond.’ When we pray the memorial El Maleh Rahamim prayer (and at other times) we ask that the deceased be ‘bound up in the bond of life’ – tz’ror haHayyim. By placing the stone, we show that we have been there, and that the individual’s memory continues to live on in and through us."

I personally believe this was a God moment for me. Seeing these stones strategically place on each headstone in our family plot broke something in me and brought joy. Right before we went to leave I noticed a stone sitting by itself on the grass in a far corner. I walked over and picked it up thinking that I would add it to Catherine's stone. I turned to find the stone that was on her grave was gone and the one I just picked up was the missing stone. "How did Catherine's stone get way over here?", I asked Chuck.  He thought maybe it happened when he was weed eating but I showed him the picture I took after he had finished and I had placed flowers. The stone was on her headstone in the picture. It was as if an angel picked it up and dropped it for me to find just to prove we were experiencing a God moment.

Drops of rain began and we packed up and headed home having experienced a memorable Easter.

 

 

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