When my sister died from breast cancer in 1995 she was just 41 years old. My daughters were 6 years old and 3 years old. At their age, they knew it was a sad affair, but they were resilient enough that they adapted to the sorrow around them with the beauty that young children have. They made the grown-ups smile and realize that happiness could and would return one day, even if in a different way.
Trips to the cemetery weren’t really unusual for us. My Dad died when I was a little girl, my Pop-Pop was buried there and quite frankly the cemetery was bucolic, filled with flowers and beautiful. I also grew up across the street from two different cemeteries. We used to play there all the time. So I took my girls to our church cemetery when they were young, sometimes with my Mom or my Nana. We would plant flowers, the kids would get water from the old fashioned pump, and run between the headstones plucking billowy headed dandelions and blowing them into the air, making wishes.
So cemeteries were not a sad place for my girls. Four months after she died, it was my sister’s 42nd birthday. I told the girls I wanted to take something to Aunt Cindy’s grave. They wanted to go to the Dollar Store and get balloons, like we did for their school parties. I thought that might be a nice idea. So off we went.
There were dozens of balloons decorating the walls and racks of the dollar store. I was surprised that the girls went right to the balloons to make their choices. They were usually distracted by the thousand different trinkets, candies, and party supplies that assaulted you as you walked in the door.
But they were on a serious mission.
Rachel, the big sister, picked first.
“I like this one, Mommy,” she chirped.
I immediately teared up and tried to stay happy and positive. Rachel could read by this time and the balloon said, “I miss you….”
“Of course, we will take that one, Rachey.”
Margot was still diligently looking through all the birthday greetings, the balloons with numbers on them and the ones in black were not to her liking. And then she found it, the perfect balloon to honor her Aunt Cindy,
“I want this one, Mommy!”
“Really, Margot?” I said a bit slowly, since my three year-old couldn’t read just yet. “Why do you like that one?”
“It’s pretty, Mommy. It has pretty flowers on it and Aunt Cindy would like that.”
“Yes, sweetie, she truly would.”
Aunt Cindy would like the sentiment a thousand times more than the flowers… So I bought an identical one for Uncle Larry this week, as they are buried together, having a chuckle I hope.
“You Just have to Laugh………..”
©2015 Cathy Sikorski