The cemetery is one of those places that I never really thought I would frequent. Until Gabe died I had been in very few cemeteries. I thought they were kind of creepy and just weren’t somewhere I ever wanted to be. Once he died that changed. I spend a lot of time there now, and one of the things that comes with a grave is a vase. And that vase needs flowers.
At first I used live flowers. As long as I kept them watered they usually stayed pretty for about a week. But a week isn’t a long time. And replacing flowers every week is not cheap! So I went to the craft store and found a few bunches I liked. The first ones were white, purple, and green. I didn’t choose those colors for any particular reason- I just liked the colors. I bought enough to make two bouquets and we kept one at home and one in his vase, kind of a way to tie him to us. There were several bunches that I did that with, and I still have those around the house.
As the months went on we had some that were orange, blue, and white- to represent the colors of his famous shoes and the Gabe’s shirts. There was a rainbow bunch that was so colorful. At the start of the 2017 school year I made a bunch that was black and white. Those lasted for a while. Spring of 2018 he had a beautiful blue bunch, and I added a butterfly. In fall of 2018 I had a helper. He had no interest in going to the cemetery until that point, but he and I went to the craft store and picked out some beautiful orange flowers, and he picked a pumpkin decoration that reminded us of the Hokies colors.
As holidays came I decorated his headstone, usually just adding things to the vase- Christmas colored items or ornaments. The first year a friend added a wreath, another added a light, and another added a snowglobe. Last year a friend added a grave blanket made of branches and bows. Today I created the arrangement you see at the top of this page.
For his birthdays he got balloons. The first year was a balloon that had a 16 on it, and another with Dory from Finding Nemo, which was his favorite movie. This year we just added a huge balloon that said Happy Birthday.
It may seem odd-this ritual of bringing things to the grave of a dead child. But really it’s not. When that child is gone you feel the need to continue to do something for them. Visiting the cemetery and bringing these things for Gabe are one of the ways I stay close to him. It is one of the ways I can still do something for him, though he isn’t here anymore.
I don’t make matching bouquets for our house anymore but I will continue to bring flowers to make his grave beautiful. He is still loved and still special, and his resting place will show that.