As Memorial Day approaches, I am reminiscent of my childhood. My dad, being a Veteran , was always part of the color guard during the services at the cemetery. We would then place flowers on the graves of family members and were reminded of friends who had passed. We always put flowers out for my "baby brother", Paul who died before I was born. We also put out flowers for my cousin Mark who died from an accident when he was only 12 years old. Later, we put flowers out for my cousin Jeanne's babies who died before their births. It didn't seem strange or uncomfortable; it was just what we did. As I visit Henry's grave when I get the chance to return to my home town I am grateful for my childhood visits to the cemetery and to my family members who faced this particular type of grief before me. While everyone's process is different, it is nice to have the knowledge that you are not alone in this club that none of us wanted to join.
Whether or not we make it back to my hometown every Memorial Day or not I always take pause on that day to know that it will never be a holiday solely about cookouts and vacation days for me. Jens has always known about his brother, Henry. Just as I have always known about my brother Paul. It is not strange for him, though he often wishes (as do Jim and I) that Henry was with us. It also makes heaven a more "real" place for all of us. Now that my in-laws also have passed it is a comfort to know that Henry is in heaven with his grandparents. The life, death, life cycle is a process that we all must gain some level of comfort around. I have to say, since losing Henry I am not afraid of dying. I am not in any hurry, mind you. There is still plenty of living that I long to do but death no longer scares me and I think that I now live with more intention and with more perspective because I my experiences of loss.