Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Special Gardening

I'm seeing my childhood home with new eyes. It's way different from Devon but beautiful nonetheless.  Although miles away from the TOWIE stereotype, my sister Esther was an Essex girl born and bred. So it's fitting for her to be buried on a hilltop under the county's wonderful immense skies.   I visited her grave yesterday with my parents and Louis. It was the first time that I'd been there since her funeral. Maybe it's understandable that I didn't really take in the surrounding on that day.

 It  was surprising to see that a cemetery so full of life, a woodland site with an abundance of trees and flowers.   And there were delightful baby coots on the pond. My sister would have liked those. In contrast her grave was pretty bare when we arrived.  Just a few bulbs and the cyclamen that sat on top of her coffin in the hearse.  But we'd come on a mission via a nursery. The soil had settled and was ready for planting.

I was shielded from death well into young adulthood and consequently I feared it far more than I should. My decision to help Louis make acquaintance with it in childhood has been a conscious one. He attended the funeral of his grandpa when he was just six and was at my side when we buried his aunt. He sees that this is the natural order of things and it is okay to grieve and celebrate at the same time.  It seemed right that he should be involved again in making Esther's resting place beautiful. Here he is helping Nana.  When we went to collect water we looked at other graves. We were both moved by those of babies who were 'Born Sleeping'.  It made me so aware of how precious a gift it was to have one who came into the world alive and kicking.

And here's the fruits of our labours that were surprisingly joyful. There's still a lot of soil showing at the moment but I reckon in a few months Esther's grave will be a carpet of colour throughout the seasons.  There's bluebells, snowdrops, primroses, daffodils, heathers.......The list goes on and on.  Lou chose a beautiful white agapanthus and my own offering were columbines.  I'm always delighted when I come across them flowering in the woods.

Esther was a gardener.  I hope that she was looking down on us yesterday with a smile.   See you soon Sis.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's in bloom next time we visit.  We hope 'The Bees Like It'.  I'll sign off today with the Khalil Gibran poem that Louis read at the graveside back in September/

Unwrap me from this white linen shroud
And clothe me with leaves of jasmine and lilies;
Take my body from the ivory casket and let it rest
Upon pillows of orange blossoms.
Lament me not, but sing songs of youth and joy;
Shed not tears upon me, but sing of harvest and the winepress;
Utter no sigh of agony,
But draw upon my face with your finger the symbol of Love and Joy.
Disturb not the air's tranquillity with chanting and requiems,
But let your hearts sing with me the song of Eternal Life;
Mourn me not with apparel of black,
But dress in colour and rejoice with me;
Talk not of my departure with sighs in your hearts;
Close your eyes and you will see me with you forevermore.

Place me upon clusters of leaves
And carry me upon your friendly shoulders
And walk slowly to the deserted forest.
Take me not to the crowded burying ground
Lest my slumber be disrupted by the rattling of bones and skulls.
Carry me to the cypress woods
And dig my grave where violets and poppies grow not in the other's shadow;
Let my grave be deep
So that the flood will not carry my bones to the open valley;
Let my grace be wide,
So that the twilight shadows will come and sit by me.

Take from me all earthly raiment
And place me deep in my Mother Earth;
And place me with care upon my mother's breast.
Cover me with soft earth,
And let each handful be mixed with seeds of jasmine, lilies and myrtle;
And when they grow above me,
And thrive on my body's element they will breathe the fragrance of my heart into space;
And reveal even to the sun the secret of my peace;
And sail with the breeze and comfort the wayfarer.

Leave me then, friends - leave me and depart on mute feet,
As the silence walks in the deserted valley;
Leave me to God and disperse yourselves slowly,
As the almond and apple blossoms disperse under the vibration of Nisan's breeze.
Go back to the joy of your dwellings
And you will find there that which Death cannot remove from you and me.
Leave this place, for what you see here is far away in meaning
From the earthly world. Leave me.


  1. What a beautiful poem and I really like your approach to death and how your son should see it.

    1. Esther had a copy of 'The Prophet' so that's why I chose the reading. xx

  2. Beautiful post today and I agree so much that we should let children see that death is a part of life. The flowers planted today are going to look glorious just shortly. Catriona

    1. I'm hoping that it will look glorious. The planting was a bit random. Some moving about and thinning may be required. xx