Most parents would love to see their kids’ names in print. A marquee. A byline. A scorecard. A ballot. But you know where they don’t want to see it? On a gravestone.
Two years, eight months and 10 days later, Sarah and Benjamin’s marker came in and was placed on Friday. While we’ll have the official dedication soon, we went yesterday for Father’s Day to see it. And it is beautiful. Well, as beautiful as something signifying your dead children can be.
It wasn’t that it took two years, eight months and 10 days to make it. Rather, it was that Double A and I couldn’t move forward on it. It was like we were paralyzed by the emotion of it. Baby K’s was taken care of right away, as there was only one choice for her marker. My mom and aunt (who works for the cemetery) coordinated it, and Double A and I signed off on it. But with the twins, it just sat. A heavy guilt weight on our shoulders that we couldn’t move.
And then my Papa died in February, and going to his funeral also meant going back to the cemetery for the first time since we lost the twins. It’s not something I’m proud of, but at the same time, neither of us feels like we need to go there to remember them. That said, I hated that we had to view their temporarily marked grave for the first time in front of a crowd. I was ashamed, especially when the temporary marker spelled Sarah’s middle name Hannah instead of Hana.
Here we were, celebrating my 96-year-old Papa’s life, while a couple of plots over were our children who never took their first breath. It was an awful juxtaposition, and at the same time, we left the cemetery with a renewed sense of strength and courage. Sarah and Benjamin deserved to be recognized.
We hadn’t planned on the timing for Father’s Day, and quite frankly, I was surprised that Double A said he wanted to go to the cemetery. But there we were, with Baby Boy and Little Guy too. The sun from the blue skies made Sarah and Benjamin’s names and the bronze edging shine bright, and brought a warmth I didn’t think was possible. We had the boys gather rocks to place on Sarah and Benjamin’s joint marker, and on Baby K’s while we explained to them about their brother and sisters, and how we put rocks down to show that we had been there, and continue to carry on their memory.
Of course tears were shed. But for the first time, it wasn’t big, ugly tears. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that we are any less sad. Maybe it was that we got to go there on our own choosing, and not for another funeral. Maybe it was because we had our living boys in our arms, smothering them with hugs and kisses with all of the gratitude we feel for their existence. Or maybe it was because there was a huge sense of relief that Sarah and Benjamin’s name was finally in print, for all the world to see and know what we already knew: our children exist, and they matter.