Because Mary’s grandpa just died, the kids are all about caskets and funerals and cemeteries. We regularly visit the graves of my parents, so she was at least was prepared for that – though for some reason we can’t figure out, she expected the Easter Bunny to be there.
They understand now, though, best they can, that when someone dies it is only their body that is left. They can verbalize how the spirit leaves the body, and the body waits for the resurrection. They knew what Mary’s grandpa looked like before he died, and how he was different in the casket. They know the casket went in the ground, and that we visit the ground as a place to remember even though we often feel his spirit learning and helping us more than ever.
Because of this context, they were excited to learn that when great-grandad passes, he will be buried next to great-grandma, who is very near Grandpa James who is my daddy.
It was natural, then, to take them to see it and visit today.
They have been learning about genealogy, and we looked at how grandma had a birth date and a death date on the headstone, but how great-grandad only has a birth date.
They talked about how veterans get flags and guns at their funerals, and how if you die with a temple recommend you are buried in white instead of church clothes.
They know so much, so young, and are innocently very excited for great-grandad to be resurrected next to grandma.
That’s when they asked to go snuggle with Grandpa James.
And so we did, with our traditional autumn gift of pinecones, the way Jews leave stones on graves instead of flowers.
And we stood in the cold morning, telling once again their favorite story about the time Grandpa James blew up the fireworks stand.
Because I know he loves them, and I want them to love him, too.
Because I want them to know family is more important than anything, that we fight for families, that families are ordained of God and temple homes are safe and good and happy and full of love, where we know and are known… and never forgotten.
Because families are forever.