But who will put flowers on his grave??


Signed up, ticket purchased and ready to go to China…..but one thing I forgot, it made me start to question my trip to China.  Who is going to put flowers on Clifton’s grave??

Who will attend the Compassionate Friends Christmas Memorial and light a candle in his memory?  Who will attend the Memorial Day Mass at the cemetery every Memorial Day?  Eric and I have never missed a mass on Memorial Day at the cemetery.  What have I done?   Life sucks…….if you let it.

I verbalized this thought recently, once to my class at school and once just today when I was talking to a friend who happened to drive by when I was leaving another friend’s house.

I can say I am associated with the nicest, most caring and compassionate friends in the world!  As I spoke of my dilemma at school, one little girl (Rachel) raised her hand and said, “Ms. Essley, I will put flowers on Clifton’s grave, you just need to show me where it is.”  Now how is that for caring, when a little 3rd grader commits to placing flower’s on my son’s grave occasionally.  I love Rachel.

But just today, I became teary eyed again when I was speaking to my friend, Bill.  He had stopped when he saw my car and began to talk to me about my China trip.  He too has lost a son.  I told him how I was wondering who was going to put flowers on my son’s grave while I was gone.  That is two whole years with no trip to the cemetery on his birthday, Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and other holidays, or if I just happened to be in the neighborhood days.

This was an arrangement of flowers that was sent to Clifton's funeral. I have had it for 20 years. As I packed to put my things in storage, I decided to take this arrangement to his grave. As hard as it was, I guess it was a sign of .....letting go? moving forward?

He told me that placing flower’s on a grave is an outwardly expression to let others know you haven’t forgotten.  He told me I would never forget, and he would always be in my heart.  Was it just random that Bill drove by today?

So with that in mind, and knowing that Rachel will get her parents to drive to my son’s grave on occasion, I will remember all the times I have been able to place flowers on his grave and keep those times close to my heart.  I will just watch for signs that my son knows I think about him, miss him, and love him everyday.  EVERYDAY!

Thank you Eric, Rachel and Bill.

Update: August 19, 2011, now I guess I know who will put flowers on Clifton’s grave!  THANK YOU TO  EVERYONE WHO DID.  Your kindness means more than you can EVER imagine.  Unless you have lost a child, you can’t even begin to know the devastation and heart break it causes in your life, and the outwardly expression of placing flowers on your son’s grave is comforting, in a way.

About cessley

I am a bereaved parent. I write to give hope to other bereaved parents who are fresh in their grief. I want them to know life begins again. It (life) is forever changed, as are you, but one day, you will smile again. You may travel, you will make new friends, your heart will mend, though never heal and it will be a painful ride. It is one step at a time....sometimes, even one breath to the next is all we can seem to live through each day. But each day will be a new beginning, a different beginning, a different you. I have two surviving children: Amy, who is married to Brandon, and they have one daughter, Avery, and one son, Dylan. and Eric who is a doctor and is Clifton's twin brother. Clifton passed away when he was nearly two years old. As any bereaved parent knows, it is tough, REALLY tough trying to live after the death of a child. I lived in Shanghai, China for three years after the death of my son, and then lived in Beijing for two years. I am discovering life again, one step at a time. I returned to Oklahoma in February , 2020 due to the uncertainty of the virus. Little did I know the uncertainty would follow me across the ocean. This is nothing compared to the death of a child. I will survive! View all posts by cessley

3 responses to “But who will put flowers on his grave??

  • Eric

    Horseshoes can’t make the blog? I was for sure it would. You’ll do great in China. I’ll even promise to visit the cemetery.

  • Patricia Whitfield

    Hi Cathy this is Patricia Whitfield just to let you know I have found you on the web:)

  • Kelli Pate

    My Dear Cathy,
    It has been a long time since we spoke and I want you to know that I am sorry for that! We all loved your little Clifton but as a momma myself – words could not express how I woudl feel to loose my Ellen. I will pray for you and Clifton but I truly feel that he is in Heaven ( even thoguh we woudl rather he was with us!) En joy Chine and I look forward to your blogs!

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