Told by: Robin
I was walking through the cemetery near my home in Kentucky recently and saw the tombstone of a child who was born and died on the same day. There was a stuffed Valentine’s Day bear sitting beside the grave. I stopped walking and began to cry; imagining the pain and heartbreak of the parents of that baby. My own brother is also buried in that same cemetery. I walk by his tombstone day after day and I always look over at it; even though I try not to… The tombstone is a pinkish color so it’s hard to miss. Inscribed on the stone are the words ‘Forever in our Hearts’. My mother married at a very young age. She was only fifteen. She was only sixteen when she gave birth to her first baby; a boy she named after my father ‘Donald’. Anyway, when Donnie was only a few months old, my father came home from work to find my mother napping and my brother dead. My parents were told that their baby son died of SIDS. There was no other explanation. My mother put him down for his nap and he never woke up. I can’t even begin to imagine how my mother processed such a tragic loss; especially at such a young age. I can’t imagine waking up from a nap to find my baby dead. I can’t imagine… Sadly, my parents did not even have the money to bury their dead baby; my brother I never had the chance to meet and know. My Mammaw (mother’s mother) bought a burial plot so my parents were able to bury their baby properly. (My Mammaw is buried near him now. They are in Heaven together.) As I read through so many stories of loss on this site, I have been reminded of the loss of the brother I never knew. Back when this tragedy happened, there was no internet with loss web sites like this one. There was really no help at all; no place a mother or father could turn for help with their grief and heartbreak. My mother had to internalize her pain and find a way to go on. She does not talk about Donnie but I’m sure she thinks about him and ‘remembers’ on his birthday, death day and on Mother’s Day…
Now, my mammaw, she gave birth to five children but only two survived; my mom and her older brother (who passed away about six years ago). My mammaw miscarried one baby that was so tiny, she buried the baby in a large matchbox. The baby was buried on their farm. She also gave birth to another son and daughter; Russell and Sarah. Sarah was still- born and Russell died at 18 months. I did not realize that Russell was 18 months old when he died. I thought he was born dead like Sarah. My heart broke when mom told me he was one and a half when he died. He was walking and talking… he had the flu and the doctor gave him the wrong medicine. I can’t imagine… Sarah and Russell are buried near Donnie and Mammaw. They are all in Heaven together. Mammaw has been reunited with all of her children now except for my mom.
My mammaw lost her own mother when she was just a young girl. She raised her two brothers. Her life was so difficult but you would never have known it from the way she carried herself and reached out to others, always helping others when she was in need herself. She taught first and second grade up until I was in junior high school (the mid-seventies). She gave to others when she was in need herself. That was ‘normal’ to me and what I was taught we are to do. I can remember her always saying no matter how difficult any circumstance “God takes care of His own”. She was truly a woman of God. I’m so thankful for a godly heritage that came down through my precious mammaw. I learned so much from her about God, about life and about how to love others more than myself.