Seven years ago, my nephew died a tragic death at the age of 24. One bright summer’s day in a small town on the coast of Maine, my husband and I visited his grave. Situated off a country road, the cemetery sloped gently, surrounded by a pine forest. We walked up the hill, trying to remember the location of his plot. I wandered through rows lined with graves of young and old, and even a day old infant. My husband beckoned me to a row near the forest edge. I was in for a surprise.
Andrew’s gravesite had been turned into a garden. My guess is that his mother lovingly turned the soil, added fertilizer, and planted perennials. Andrew’s garden was in full bloom. I brushed my hand over the lavender and sniffed the delicate fragrance. Purple blossoms swayed in the breeze. A butterfly flitted from blossom to blossom. My husband took off his cap and we prayed a Rosary. All the while, I watched bees pollinate flowers. Life fluttered above the grave, butterflies flying and breathing God’s sweet air. Etched on Andrew’s granite stone was a poem:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wildflower
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand … and eternity in an hour.
We lingered at the cemetery and I recalled his graveside service. Many tears were shed that day. He was so young; life was just getting underway. I picked a rock from the garden soil and put it in my pocket, a reminder of Andrew’s short life. The butterfly flew away, high in the sky, giving me hope that his soul rested – like all of infinity – in the palm of God’s hand.
Copyright 2019 Kathryn Swegart