David was working on a job Saturday cleaning up limbs and trees at an old cemetary. I spent almost an hour walking through the graveyard looking at the different headstones and plots. When I was a kid, I used to think of it as a game. I would try and figure out how many years a person had lived or how old they would be if they were still alive. As an adult and a mother, though, I had a whole different take on the cemetary.
I made it to one family plot from the late 1800s. The first headstone was for an infant that lived a day. The next was another infant that lived for five months. The next was an infant that lived for only a day. In all, the family buried six babies, all under a year old. I stood there and I wept. As the tears rolled down my face, all that I could imagine was my little boy kicking inside of me and how much I loved him even before I ever met him. I remembered holding him in my arms for the first time and how tiny and perfect he was. I knew my life would never be the same. I knew my love would never be the same.
That mama felt all of those things for every single one of those babies. Each of them grew inside her womb. She loved them as only a mother could love her child. I began trying to imagine this mother and her situation. Had the babies fallen ill? Was there a fever? Was it an incurable disease? Was she unable to produce milk with no wet nurse in the town? Was the baby just too weak to take another breath? With each new scenario, a new and steady stream of tears fell down my face as I tried to imagine the emotional hardship that this mama faced having to bury six infants. How hard had it been to hold a sick child knowing that all she could do was rock him and watch him die?
My heart broke as I moved between these old family plots. There was another mother who burried two infants and one other child under five years old. She died at age 36, within a year of the death of her youngest child. Did she simply die from a broken heart?
I think the realization that I left with is that every grave in that cemetary represented a life. One life. One chance to love. One chance to impact others. One dash. I won’t get the chance to meet those mamas on this side of heaven, but I’ve got the chance now to live my life. I’ve got the chance now to do life with other people and walk with those who are praising and whose who are hurting. I don’t have to try to imagine what it must have been like when someone went through a tragedy. I get the opportunity to hold their hand and feel their emotions with them as God carries them through to the other side of their hurts.
I left with the great reminder that we get the opportunity to do life with others. Oftentimes we shy away from people who are hurting because we don’t know what to say, don’t think we have anything to offer or because it makes us feel uncomfortable. I don’t think any of those things really matter. Hurting people simply need caring people. What an awesome privilege to walk with others through hard times; to watch God do what only He can do. Let’s walk with each other. Let’s do life together.