Recently, I saw a story on the news about Andrew Lumish, a man who has spent the last 5 years cleaning headstones of U.S. Veterans in Tampa, Florida. His story touched a place in my heart because our oldest son is buried at Highland Cemetery. We have a family plot with a beautiful headstone so it gives me comfort to know that we will all be together out there one day.
My husband stopped by to visit our boy last week and noticed that the newly occupied plot behind ours was in disarray. They did not have a headstone yet, just a temporary marker along with some flowers and other sentimental items. We also had a temporary marker on ours for months as headstones are very costly. Most of the items, along with the marker, were laying down flat like the caretakers just ran over them with a mower. Dave walked over and fixed it so the family wouldn’t find it in such a state. I cannot imagine how I would feel if I went to the cemetery to visit our boy only to find that someone destroyed everything.
There were some young men doing groundskeeping while Dave was there. He said that they were talking very loudly to each other over the headstones and swearing a lot. This made me very sad. I go to the cemetery for peace and comfort and obviously this was not the day to go. I only hope that they respect the light saber, Star Wars figurines, and Darth Vader sign that we have at Christian’s grave.
As a teenager, I thought it was cool to go to the cemetery at midnight with my friends so we could tell stories and scare each other. I never disrespected any of the headstones but I also didn’t think about what a cemetery really is – a place where we can go to feel comfort, grieve, or even talk to those we have lost. I admit that I talked to Christian a lot more during the year after he passed away. Now when I go, I tell him how much I love and miss him and what we have been up to. I also spend time in silence. There are many magpies, western meadowlarks, robins and other birds who keep me company too. I don’t like the sight of bird droppings on the headstone but I like to think that they are watching over my boy.
Luckily, Highland Cemetery locks the gates at night. It is in the most beautiful area where the sky is big and the hills are rolling all the way to the horizon. I only hope that people will follow the example of Andrew Lumish and my husband and respect the graves of those who have passed on before us.