May 29, 2008

~ My Belated Memorial Day ~

by Stephanie Abney

"Memorial ~ remembrance of a person or an event”

For whatever strange reason, Memorial Day was difficult for me this year. My love and admiration for those passed on never ceases but my moods do tend to come and go, without the slightest warning. For the first time in over 30 years, I did not join the rest of the extended family in decorating the graves and these days, we have a lot of graves to go to. We meet at row 5 of the Mesa Cemetery (dozens of cousins and aunts and uncles and children and grandchildren ~ we are quite a large crowd when we show up) and moving across each row like this giant wave of humanity, stopping at grave after grave to clean up the headstone and leave flowers, we end up at row 12 where our precious BJ is. (And although we can visit Jim’s parents’ graves, mine are both buried at Forest Lawn in Hollywood, CA and I’ve only been able to visit their graves once since they passed away 8 and 10 years ago).

I haven’t been to the Mesa cemetery for a few months, but I hope to make it tomorrow. I think I just need to sit by my son's grave, alone… and I haven't been able to go yet. Odd... it's been almost eight years and I've always gone to decorate the graves but this year I wasn't up to it and I’ve been in a “mood” ever since. My work has suffered; totally missed a deadline for 2 articles. All the interviewing was done, the photos acquired and yet I sat at the computer and just nothing came.

I think part of it is going to so many of BJ’s friends' wedding receptions or missionary talks when they return over the last couple of years. I don't know. I wouldn’t miss being there for any of them and am grateful their families always remember to invite us, but sometimes I just get sad that it’s never BJ striding up the airport walkway, grinning from ear to ear, and that he’s not the one at the pulpit telling of his remarkable experiences (although I don’t doubt for a minute that he has been serving a mission all these years and has many marvelous stories to tell). He would be 24 years old this September. He was our youngest, our baby and 2 months after his sixteenth birthday, he was gone. And I miss him every moment of every day.

My daughter, Kaci, needed me to drive my 3 oldest granddaughters (ages 10, 12, & 14) halfway to her house in Coolidge (her husband left this afternoon for scout camp and the girls are going to help her with her two little toddlers). On the way we played silly word games, like “I’m going on a trip to Alaska and I packed…” each of us taking turns over and over, always repeating all the previous items, adding to the list alphabetically. It was such fun and I remembered how blessed I am to have these wonderful grandchildren in my life (I have 14 total so far).

We met Kaci halfway and she presented me with a belated Mother’s Day gift… a framed picture of each of her little girls and one of their sweet family with a word under each photo: “Live, Laugh, Love” and I remembered how lucky I am.

Then I did some errands (should have gotten out of the house more this week) and just getting things done for Jim that he didn’t have time to do made me remember the partnership we have shared (and built with such effort) for nearly 38 years and I remembered how loved I am.

And lastly, I attended Liz Adair’s workshop tonight ~ “Using Family History in Fiction.” It was awesome and so helpful and as she taught us, I remembered my honorable heritage.

So, today was my day for remembrance, not Sunday night when our family decorated the graves or even Monday when we had the family over to dinner (which was fun but I still felt ‘lost’ even with everyone there). No, today, I remembered; it was my belated Memorial Day and for me, it was just what I needed. The Lord is merciful (and patient) indeed. Today, I found myself again. I’m feeling much better and tomorrow I will go and take my blanket and my Native American Flute that BJ loved so much and I’ll tell him about stuff that I’m sure he already knows and I’ll play my flute and I’ll remember… and be glad. Happy Belated Memorial Day!!


  1. You never get over losing a child. Even though it's been some 35 odd years, my boss still bears scars from losing her child; even though she has six wonderful grandkids and a son. She doesn't forget.

  2. What a poignant post, Stephanie. Thank you. Sarah Albrecht

  3. It was a joy getting to sit with you Thursday night, Stephanie. We didn't get to chat much, but it felt so good to be amongst so many of my "sisters." I love listening to you play your flute. I'm glad you found yourself. I'm going to go dry my eyes and blow my nose now...hugs to you!

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  5. Thank you for sharing your wonderful thoughts - and how you found yourself. There's many a time I need to do the same - and I haven't lost a child.

  6. I don't know if anyone is still checking back on this blog post, but if you do... I should tell you that on Friday I did go to the cemetery and sit by BJ's grave, visit with him and played my flute. It was rather warm, but I never noticed.

    Also, yesterday afternoon Jim and I went to see EMMA SMITH: MY STORY. It was so powerful and went a long ways towards the continuation of "finding myself."

    Take care, friends!!


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