Building Bridges Between Those We Love

Building Bridges Between Those We Love

I watch my babes climb around on my father’s gravestone. They slide their little fingers in the grooves of the inscription and investigate the engraved picture of a cabin in the woods. This is the first time my son is old enough to read the words on the stone. As he does so, I’m flooded.

The words are by Thoreau – I’ve read it hundreds of times.

The increasing number of rows of stones beyond ours visually marks the passing years since we said goodbye.

My son asks different questions during this particular visit. He wonders about how they KNOW someone died. I explain the story and situation in detail and how our bodies slip from one state to another when we pass, not even really able to grasp this concept completely myself. I find myself overtaken in this moment and tears are sliding down my face. They aren’t forced or uncomfortable, just present and necessary.

They call him Grampa Walt. He IS their Grampa. They’ve never met him, but they know him. They feel him.

They are affectionate with me at the foot of the stone noticing my pull as I talk to my father. I find myself wishing, maybe more now than ever, that he could respond. Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries accentuate the loss, and having just celebrated his birthday the feelings are fresh, swirling on the surface. I often wonder what he would think…what would he tell me in this season of life. I want to hear his voice, his thoughts, his guidance. Instead, his values and words from many years past echo through me as his encouragement.

We leave tokens behind. They are significant of making some sort of connection with him. It came naturally to me the first time I visited and is now ritual. Ritual offers solace and symbolizes an exchange.

My babes are comfortable in this place. And I am comforted. It’s not scary or uncomfortable or overwhelming. They ask to visit the great grandparents they’ve never met as well. We verbally climb through the family tree, filling out its branches as we connect family members to one another.

We share stories of my childhood. They’ve heard them many times but something about the repetition is comforting and grounding to them – and to me.

Each year of the death of his anniversary my babes and I do something to honor him – plant something, hike in nature, reflect upon memories. I want to build bridges between those I love, present and beyond. I want those family members to have a place at the table when we gather, and in their hearts. I want my father’s essence and his story to continue weaving through time and generations, not stalled on a road cut short.


  1. Tear jerking lullaby of love. Your teachings of a love relationship on a spiritual level is so profound to your beautiful children and so many can learn from this. The understanding of compassion, faith, love of life after life is such a gift to your little ones.

  2. Never having met but feeling I know him through the actions of one courageous and loving woman. You are laying such a solid foundation for your children. How proud he must be!

    • You’ve been there through so much of that transition. I can only hope I’ve supported you a fraction of that. Love you!

Leave a Comment