In the beginning, I felt a particular draw to the cemetery as my sacred space, a place to feel connected to Lachlan. In a way, I thought it was funny that I WANTED to go there. Our culture trains us to think of a cemetery as a creepy place. I guess some of that attitude had worked its way in to my psyche… until Lach died. Then all of a sudden, it wasn’t creepy at all. It was a place of abundant love. A place where people lay to rest those who have been most important in their lives. It was no longer the backdrop for Halloween movies, but a place that was sacred and holy, a place where love could continue to be expressed.
Lach has a beautiful spot. When I was in high school, I went to the burial of the father of one of my classmates. He is buried in that same area. I remember distinctly thinking at the time that this particular place in the cemetery was stunning, and I wondered why there would be any plots left in that area. Those should have been the first ones to go! It sits above the mouth of Spearfish Canyon and all its trees, overlooking the golf course, a pond and a fountain. That summer after Lach died, anytime I could work my way up there to sit in the silence by myself, I would. It was peaceful. That was where I said my last goodbye. It was a place I could feel connected to him and work through some of that grief.
Over time, that sacred space has shifted. The garden in our back yard dedicated to him and the memorial garden in Harrisburg are special spots, but more than the places you go to visit, that sacred space has moved into my heart. Lachlan comes with me wherever I am, and thoughts of him are never too far away. His existence is part of who I am. I think of him when I see a beautiful sunrise, a dragonfly, the stars, or a blooming crabapple tree. I see him in the empty space in the car, or at the table, and in the pair of soccer cleats that is missing from the pile. I see him in every 10 month old baby, in the hand-me-downs that have to be stored for a few years, in the cousins who were born the same year he was… He is always nearby.
I think shifting your relationship from a physical connection to a spiritual one is some of the major grief work that has to be done. As physical beings living within the construct of time, we crave physical connections that fill our time. Saying goodbye to the physical presence of your child means saying goodbye to sloppy baby kisses, holding a sleeping baby in your arms, wiping sticky fingers, and bath time, messy meals, picking up the toys a thousand and one times, and sharing the food off your plate at every meal. A baby takes so much of your time and your physical self, that the emptiness that is left behind is unbearable. Eventually, in being able to fill some of that emptiness with meaningful activity and relationships, the ache of the emptiness starts to fade…though it’s difficult to find something meaningful enough to fill the void when the void comes from not having your own child to care for. As my time was slowly filled in more meaningful ways and the ache of my empty arms stole less of my attention, my heart could begin find Lachlan everywhere, never very far from where I am.