Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gone

We did not bury Charlotte, and there were times that I yearned for the formality of this, the graveyard, the gravestone, the truth of one's being. Life can be proclaimed through a headstone, if that makes sense, whereas my daughter in her little white urn can be found nowhere by nobody, unless you happen to be in my bedroom when I'm not looking.
But this is the other truth, one I have never spoken, which is that after we cremated Charlotte I had a number of moments where I could hardly face myself for having made the decision. Flickers of fire and heat and disintegration and ashes would creep into the edges of my consciousness and it was all I could do to push them away. What had we done? We had turned our daughter into nothing at all. We could have dressed her beautifully and laid her calmly to rest but instead we undid her, we destroyed the perfection that had been her body. My heart ached.
And then I pictured if she had been still there, beneath the earth, and I knew this to be true: if she had been somewhere, I would have been unable to keep myself from her. I would have laid myself across her grave, I would have scraped the earth away with my fingernails bleeding to try to reach her. I would have been incapable of knowing that she was somewhere, that she did still exist, and that I could not reach her. I can see myself now, tearing at the ground, blinded by tears, trying to get to my baby.
But I do still feel empty knowing she is nowhere. Returned to the sky, to the air, but there is nothing left, and my body yearns for her still, all nearly six years of lankiness and something I will never know.

10 comments:

Ya Chun said...

Likewise, I tried not to think of the cremation.
But I also wouldn't feel right thinking about embalming and Serenity laying in a cold dark grave.
And it all boils down to that it is just wrong. all wrong.

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

Oh, my goodness. This is heartbreaking. There is no easy way, is there? I'm wondering if you do want to bury Charlotte. I think you should take comfort in the fact that you are still able to do so, if you choose. Thank you for sharing this. Peace.

Gal aka SuperMommy said...

How could you not yearn for her? Tikva was buried, and I feel like I long for her just the same...

kris said...

Oh Carol. For Charlotte to know she is loved so fiercely and completely, it is a gift. I don't know where she is, but I know she is. I know I carry a piece of her with me...a piece I took from that warm yellow house.

Hope's Mama said...

Hope is buried in a beautiful spot just five minutes up the road, and so many times I have thought of going up there and digging her up with my bare hands. I couldn't bare the thought of cremating Hope, but now the images of her lying, decomposing in that coffin also haunt me. As Ya Chun said, it is all so wrong.

Heather said...

My Charlotte is buried. It was late Spring and cold, and for the first few weeks, month or so, I wept continuously thinking that she was cold. I wanted to lie across that grave to keep her warm. I almost did.

I've often gone back on my decision, thinking cremation may have been better. Then she could be here with me. My biggest fear is that if we ever have to move, there would be no one to visit her.

There are no winners in this, that's for sure.

Cara said...

Like Heather said, there are no winners. I love my house - did from the moment we saw it, and the fact that the cemetary is a mile away solidified it. We pass the access road everyday.

The Comedian said just the other day, "Let's go see Emma." My heart broke into a thousand pieces when I replied, "We can't". Why? They shut down the cemetary in the winter. They don't maintain it due to the excessive snow. Not only can't we get in, but even if we could we would literally have to dig out Emma's headstone. She is currently burried under feet of snow.

"I'll dig with my hands" my four year old volunteered. "I have mittens" she finished with a stunning smile.

Meg said...

This is so touching. I would lean more towards cremating because then you have that phisical evidence of the urn and you can do with it what you want. I would want it near me to hold and talk to. I don't think you "got rid of her" or anything like that. You are able to keep her with you no matter where you move or anything. I think you made a very good choice out of 2 crappy options because both of them mean the same thing. She isn't here. I'm so sorry so many people have to make that choice. Whatever a parent chooses, it is difficult and not fair....not fair at all.

Anam Cara said...

My son, who died at birth almost 5 years ago, was buried. I bitterly regret not getting him cremated. I don't want to get too graphic, but I use to have horrible visions of what was happening to his tiny body by the living creatures who inhabit the dirt. Even now I struggle to force myself NOT to think about it. I don't even like to go to his grave anymore because I start obsessing about it and it just makes me feel sick. In my opinion cremation is much preferable.

Ruth said...

I know and agree with Ya Chun. I think about all these things too and it just hurts. I just want to hold and nurse my baby. I miss my Ren.