Life Chez Dee Episode #95: Edward's Place
I wanted to talk about Edward's place; Edward’s grave. This might seem like a strange subject to talk about, but as this is going round in my mind, and I’m in the habit now of offloading all that stuff, then this is something I need to talk about and share.
Edward is buried; I couldn’t bring myself to have Edward cremated. I watched him die. I visited him daily for the two weeks until we buried him. He was beautiful. For me, it felt like I needed to have that vision in my head. He looked as though he was sleeping, and when I laid him to rest in the ground, that vision of him sleeping was the image I wanted. I didn’t want to think of his body being burned.
I also wanted somewhere to go, and to visit – which is also a bit of a contradiction for me. Because although I wanted to know that I’d laid him to rest – he was sleeping, albeit underground, I never felt as though I was visiting Edward when I went to the grave. Of course it is somewhere to go, to focus my thoughts, to put flowers, to make nice. This is Edward’s place on this Earth. His soul has gone to heaven. His spirit is no longer in its earthly body. But I think of Edward’s spirit with me constantly. In my head, in my heart, around me … when I look at the sky, when I feel the wind, when I hear a song, when I see a feather, or a bird, all the signs are there. The rainstorms, the red skies, the rainbows. Going to Edward’s grave is to make his body’s place of rest beautiful.
And yet it still has meaning. We have agonised over so many details. Details which are unthinkable to many …. Buying the plot, deciding whether to buy an adjacent plot … deciding how deep to bury Edward, so that there is room for another family member. All these unimaginable questions, we have talked about.
Then we’ve had to choose a headstone. I’ll say that again, because even now, the concept of choosing a headstone for your child is unthinkable for so many … including ourselves.
“When are you getting a headstone?” we’re asked. I can’t believe how many times, and by how many people I’ve been asked this – but why? And why is it so important to those who rarely even go to see Edward. Why are others in so much of a rush for us to sort this. People telling us that they went to visit and were upset that there wasn’t a headstone there yet! People not even related, were upset by this.
We have been thinking about the headstone for months. Thinking about this, talking about this, over and over ….. weeks and weeks of thoughts and talks. Because it needs to be perfect.
And there’s the cost of it. There is no question, we will find the money. We have the money in the bank. Will this cost hit us hard? Yes. I’d like to spend this money on spending some time together as a family, time we don’t really get enough of, time to talk, and make memories, and process, and heal. We can’t do both. I regret we can’t do both. But I don’t regret that we are spending on a beautiful stone for Edward.
Edward is buried in a beautiful place; near the duckpond, and under the most magnificent, climbable oak tree. We decided on some very simple words for the stone, but we needed to choose the type of stone. We wanted white marble. We took ages to decide on marble. We were told how it wouldn’t weather, it would go dirty, it would go green, especially as it’s under the tree. We were advised to go for granite …. but I didn’t want granite. I didn’t like the black or the white granite, and the white granite isn’t white … its greyish. I thought about grey granite … with white writing … but we kept coming back to the white, because it felt right, it was what we wanted. And after months and months of thinking about it, about the colour, about the marble, about the words, we finally chose a headstone for Edward. A beautiful white marble headstone with beautiful simple wording.
I go to visit Edward every week. He’s not there, I know, but I like it to be pretty, and tidy, and nice. It’s a special place. I make time, I think about what needs to be done. Cleaning the grave; waxing the stone; wiping out the rainwater from the lanterns which hold the candles; wiping his bench. Planting bulbs; watching them appear early spring; adding that beauty and colour to the spot where Edward lies. I choose the flowers I take to his grave every week. I don’t just pick up a bunch … I choose them. Edward liked the colour green; he loved sunflowers; he was great at growing sunflowers; I buy sunflowers when I can. I buy what I think Edward will like; what I think is suitable for Edward …. I can’t bring myself to take him pink carnations for example …. it doesn’t feel right. There will be those who tell me that it doesn’t matter, but it does matter; it’s on my mind, it’s important to me, so it does matter. This is my child’s grave. Please don’t belittle the significance of what I do, because you think it’s just some flowers. Every decision I make for Edward is done with a lot of thought; and it will always be so.
To receive a message from someone that they went to see Edward. That they left him something. That they just went to sit there and talk, and think. That means so much. To know that people love him, and miss him, and think to talk to him, and visit him …. And tell me how much they’ve not forgotten him … is special. And not just the adults who tell me … the children too. When I find things which have been written for Edward, or made for Edward, and left for Edward … that’s really special. When his friends stop me in the street to say they called by to see him … that’s so lovely. So lovely it blows me away. Thank you to those who do, it means so much more than you will ever know.
It is so beautiful at the moment. Bulbs are poking through the ground, signs of spring all around. The little tete a tete bringing that touch of colour. My favourite time to visit Edward is either early morning, or early evening. When there isn’t a soul around. When the sunshine comes through a grey sky, casting a really beautiful light on everything. It is a very peaceful and special place to be. I sit on Edward’s bench … under the tree … looking at Edward’s grave; looking far beyond at all the many graves, not really thinking of anything in particular, just being there.
And now I can sit on Edward’s bench, and that makes being there so much easier. I’m so grateful to the lady who bought this for us; unconditionally; just as something nice to do for us; you will probably never realise how special your act of kindness was; but it’s very much appreciated and never forgotten. I can go and sit, and breathe, and just be there … with Edward … with my thoughts. And I really can’t explain this any better.
by Elizabeth Dee
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[This piece was originally published by The Edward Dee Fund; republished by Elizabeth Dee on Life Chez Dee 20th January 2021]