Sunday was my birthday. Brandon had asked me what I wanted and I told him I only wanted one thing. Time. I wanted time all to myself to go out to the cemetery and work on Anne Marie's spot. I go there at least weekly, but Oliver is almost always with me and I haven't had a good chunk of time to stay and work. I wanted to pull up the dead winter grass that I had tried to get to grow but which never did really grow. I wanted to level out the ground that in one particular spot is a bit uneven. I want to polish her headstone and put in some fresh flowers. I wanted to make it look pretty. And so after lunch on Sunday I made a trip to the hardware store and bought turf builder, grass seed, dirt, flowers, and new gloves, and I went to the cemetery to work.
I weed-eated and dug up all the clumps of weeds that try to take over so quickly. I pulled up old grass and raked the soil. I tried my best (but failed) to make things level. The rain the previous days had made the ground nice and wet so even though it was muddy it made the digging a little easier. I put down turf builder and grass seed and spread a layer of soil on top. And I patted it gently down, praying that it would grow. I polished her headstone and brushed out all the loose dirt that gets caught in the cracks. And even though I think it's against the rules, I planted some flowers. I wanted Anne Marie to have some live flowers that wouldn't dry up after a few days. I wanted her to have something besides artificial flowers that fade and fray so easily in the Oklahoma wind and sun.
I like to work outside, so I enjoyed being there working. I was there for a long time -- digging, cleaning, planting, trying to make things look pretty, and thinking about my girl, missing her on my birthday. I know that the beauty in heaven doesn't even begin to compare to anything here, and yet there is something in me that still wants her spot to be pretty. Even though she isn't here with me there is an ache in me to do something for her.
When I finished, I stood back, muddy and windblown, and looked at my work. And I was disappointed. It looked a little better -- the weeds around her spot were all gone and the old dry grass was gone -- but it still wasn't what I imagined. I was frustrated and sad. I had hoped that I would stand back and look and it would look how I wanted it too look -- pretty. But I'll keep at it. I'll keep watering and planting and maybe one day I'll develop a green thumb. I know Anne Marie will never see it. I know the view she has is glorious beyond description. But I'm still her mom, and moms do things for their kids because it makes us happy. We get up in the middle of the night when we hear our baby cry, we change diapers, and kiss boo-boos. We drive to ballet and to baseball games and to shop for the perfect dress. We stay up late waiting for them to come home, we pray for them, and our hearts ache over every hurt they have. And sometimes we go out to their spot at the cemetery and dig in the dirt and plant flowers because there's nothing else we would rather be doing.