by Laura Crum
Many people have written lately on this blog of loss and change. It seems to be our current theme. Since I am in the middle of a great loss and period of change, I have little else on my mind. So you must forgive the sad nature of my posts (or just don’t bother to read them). And I must warn you that nothing in this post today relates to horses or writing about horses. It does, however, relate to loss and change.
There are always some flowers in our garden. This is what it is to live on the California coast. Ever since my husband died in November I have brought flowers from our garden to his grave—a couple of times a week.
Andy’s grave is in the old cemetery where he used to play his pipes to honor the veterans on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. He is buried right in front of the biggest oak tree, where he often stood and piped.
I have placed a bench by his grave and there will some day be a gravestone with a bagpiper engraved on it. The quote my son came up with was “He played his pipes for the good of all here.” And that seems to fit Andy.
But anyway, in the meantime I bring flowers from our garden and place them on the grave. I stand barefoot on his grave—because he once asked me to—actually he asked me to dance barefoot, but I haven’t quite got there yet. But I stand barefoot, whether in the mud or the dust, and I put flowers from our garden there, and I sit on the bench and contemplate the huge old oak tree and I talk to Andy.
It sometimes strikes me that this bringing of fresh flowers from our garden to his grave is a good metaphor for how I see life right now. I tend our garden for no other reason than love. There is no practical need to do it. I choose the flowers for Andy’s grave with care, aware of their beauty, and arrange them in simple jars. I place them on his grave with love, glad to see that there are always fresh flowers there.
I know that there is no real importance to this. Andy’s spirit is with me and at our home as much as it is anywhere. His bones lie in that peaceful graveyard, that is all. Andy would not mind or feel less loved if I did not bring flowers to his grave. Like most things we do in life, it is a relatively meaningless gesture. This would include most of what I do, or most of what you do. If it does not sustain life or grow awareness, it’s relatively meaningless. You know, like when you go to hairdresser to get blond streaks put in your hair. There’s nothing wrong with this. But it’s meaningless. So is my putting flowers on Andy’s grave meaningless.
But it is the love behind it that counts. The love I feel for him that makes me want to do it—the love I still believe he feels for us that makes the whole thing worth doing. The flowers, frail and fleeting, from our much-loved garden, are a symbol of that love. Yes, they die, as we die. And yet they are beautiful and life brings more flowers constantly. And love endures as the flowers endure. Constantly changing, constantly there.
I look at old gravestones in the cemetery. A baby that died in 1800. No one alive remembers that baby. And yet she was loved. The love endures. Or so I believe.
I remember my dogs and horses that have died many years ago. I still love them. I believe I will see them again.
A hundred years from now we will all be dead. Perhaps no one will remember me or Andy. But flowers will still bloom. And our love will still be alive and present.