December 27, 2011
He’s really gone. My little boy is now at peace and my journey as a mother is over. I am now nothing more than Esme.
Just Esme. Plain old Esme.
I’m not a mother, nor am I a wife, or a partner. I am just me. I don’t even feel like a real woman any more. Since the beginning of time the one thing all women have been able to do is bare children, and I couldn’t even do that properly.
I got up this morning and plodded into the bathroom in silence. Today was my son’s funeral, and not only was I saying goodbye to my son, but I was saying goodbye to life as I knew it. After today I knew I would have nothing and I would be left feeling emptier than ever.
Getting to the church early, I wandered slowly around the graveyard grounds. Robert’s service wouldn’t start for another hour but I hadn’t wanted to miss any moment of the day. I wanted to be around my son as much as possible. As I walked around the grounds I began to notice the names and dates on the gravestones around me.
One particular Gravestone jumped out at me.
Gerald Vincent Cridland
Died: December 23rd 1900
Beloved Husband, Father, Grandfather.
A lump caught in my throat as I realized that Robert’s gravestone would never read anything like that.
After a short while I found myself walking through the children’s section of the burial ground, and I choked back the sobs as I read some on the inscriptions on the graves;
Born: November 9th 1913
Died: November 10th 1913
God took your life to save you,
Though you did not go alone,
For part of us went with you,
The Day God called you home.
Born and died: September 1st 1893
Our perfect sleeping Angel
I could feel my knees beginning to tremble as I suddenly felt the sorrow of the parents of all these children. I was one of them now, I was a mother burying her only child – and I was all alone. I re-read the inscription on the head stones. ‘Part of us‘ and ‘Our perfect angel’
There was no “us” for me. I was going through this alone. My head began to spin as I turned on my heels. I suddenly felt sick and I could feel my skin begin to burn up with anger.
Where was the justice in this?
“Mrs. Walker,” the minister greeted, his hand outstretched to shake my own. I nodded in response still not fully recovered enough or able to manage words.
I heard them before I saw them. The ‘clip-clop’ of the horses hooves sent fresh chills down my spine. I turned my head just in time to see the two jet black horses round the corner, pulling the cart with my son’s coffin in it.
Nothing about this service was going to be traditional because not a thing in his life had been. But I was hoping he would be proud. The horse and carriage came to stop only a few feet away from me, the funeral director walked around to the back of the carriage and lifted out the small, white coffin. I choked back another sob at the sight of my son’s little coffin. It didn’t seem right somehow that he was in a box. Just a cheaply made wooden box. My son deserved better than that, though I had done the best I could with the limited money I had left. Another one of the men in black suits pulled a small wreath of blue flowers from the back of the carriage and laid it on top of the coffin that the director was cradling in his arms.
“No,” I breathed as he took his first steps towards the church. He looked at me, slightly startled for a moment, until I walked over towards him and held my arms out to take the coffin from him. “He’s my son,” I pointlessly reminded him as I gently took my son and his box from the man’s arms.
“Are we ready Mrs. Walker?” the minister asked me as I turned to face him. I nodded solemnly and stepped forward, the box a heavy weight in my arms. I wrapped my arms tightly around it in an attempt not to let it fall.
I walked through the doorway of the church and down the alter. Each step felt like it was my last. My knees were quivering as the seemingly endless supply of tears began to fall. I placed my son on the two blocks at the end of the altar – which were placed only a foot apart – and then, running my hand along the length of his coffin, I turned my back on my heart, my soul, my life, and walked to the first pew, stepping into it and sitting down. Alone.
The rest of the seats were empty.
I knew I needed Johnathon here with me, it was the only way I’d get through this, but he wasn’t here. Robert wasn’t here. I was all alone.
The service was simple yet elegant. I had given the minster the letter from the ‘angel’ to read out; it seemed a fitting tribute. Certain lines still stuck out to me more than others as he read through it:
“Remember that I am with you every morning noon and night.” The sound of the minister’s voice somehow gave the words more meaning to me, as my sobs enveloped my whole body and I began to shake.
Once the service was over I walked silently towards the graveyard, towards the plot that I had almost encased myself in. Robert’s Coffin weighed heavy in my arms, but I kept telling myself that this was the last thing I would be able to do for him, and so I struggled on.
I cannot begin to describe to you how painful it is watching your child be buried; every part of your body is aching to jump in and be with him – to protect him and stop him from being scared. I wanted to protect him from the dark, kids are afraid of the dark aren’t they?
I shook my head when the minister asked if I wanted to say something. There was nothing I could say now that hadn’t been said already. And there was nothing anyone could say that would ease this pain in my arms and chest.
The worse part of burying your child is the distance; I am used to having Robert close to me in my womb, in my arms. But now… now there is nothing but dirt between us, and that hurts more than anything.
I turned away from the grave and walked. Walked like I had never walked before. I didn’t know where I was going or when I would stop. I just needed to walk.