|Toby's 2nd birthday|
Toby's funeral was at Porter and Son's in Campton. Campton is the county seat of Wolfe County, where I grew up. The people there were wonderful to us. They had never done a service for a baby that wasn't a stillborn before.
|he looked like a doll. The monkey was his animal totem.|
We didn't have too many at the visitation or the funeral but those who mattered most were there. I was actually surprised at some of the people who came, considering how far away it was. My aunt and uncle came from Texas, for instance. My chiropractor showed up, too, which sounds odd but was fitting since he had probably seen Toby more times than anyone.
|we didn't really need 4 pallbearers but we wanted friends to be a part of it|
"When They Ring the Golden Bells" (Natalie Merchant's version)
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and "Silent Night."
|Sam took this one of Dad at the cemetery. Pretty good for a 3 year old.|
I rode in the hearse with Toby to the cemetery. It is a long drive anyway, from Campton to the ridge, and driving at about 20 mph made it even longer. I was in such shock and so nervous, and yet kind of excited about being in a vehicle with my son again (I know, sounds weird) that I chattered the whole way. And if you're wondering, yes, I took almost all of these pictures. Sam took that one. It might sound strange to take pictures at your child's funeral, but I knew I would forget things and I wanted to document every little thing of his life that I could. On the way to the cemetery, I even took this picture of my favorite house in Hazel Green. The driver must have thought I was on crack.
|It's for sale if you're interested.|
Toby is buried in Meniffee County in Eastern Kentucky. It takes us around 1.5 hours to get there now. He's buried next to my Nana and there was never really any question over where he would be buried (or where I would be, for that matter). The cemetery is not a family one, per say, but I have a lot of family buried there. I foresee many of my aunts and uncles being buried there, although the only one who has passed on so far lived in Oklahoma at the time and was buried there. (I have a large family since my mom had a dozen brothers and sisters, but they also live to see old ages so that's good.)
|my mom's graduating high school class made this|
The cemetery itself is located on the ridge where my grandparents' farm was. It's only about a mile from that location. There isn't anything built up around it so it's completely isolated and rural. The setting itself is peaceful and beautiful.
You can decorate the plots however you want to. Some people put up benches and little seats. My uncle Lindon (uncle by marriage but after 50 years of marriage might as well be blood) died back in the summer and my cousins planted a tree on his grave. You can do that, too. We frequently decorate Toby's grave with flowers (real and artificial), statues, toys, etc. Sam usually brings some little cars and things to set on it. Then, of course, he wants to take them back. Some of our things are homemade and some are not.
|this is the last time we saw him. Someone took this right before we walked outside.|
There is someone who does general maintenance over the place but my dad laid down grass seed and straw last year to encourage grass to grow. It has come in nicely now and looks good.
|we make our own parking spaces (that's not THE tree, by the way)|
|after he was buried, I pulled all of the cards off the flowers that were placed on his grave|
We thought about a headstone that would have a picture in it but changed our minds. Over time, those can fade and that didn't seem appropriate.
After the graveside service, we stayed until the hole had been filled. I watched the dirt hit the casket for a few seconds and then I had to look away. My good friend sat beside me and sang to me so that I couldn't hear the noise. When it was over, she let me know. Family placed the flowers on top of the grave and then my cousin and I removed the cards so that we would remember who sent what.
|The hole seemed awfully big for such a little casket|
Toby died in August but we didn't purchase his headstone until March, due to financial reasons. To some people $600 might not sound like a lot, but it was to us. Even if we had ordered it sooner, they probably wouldn't have been able to put it on the grave until spring anyway due to frost. We saw it for the first time on Memorial Day at the end of May.
In the beginning, we visited the cemetery fairly frequently. Over time, though, it got harder. It's a long drive for the kids and we basically have to drive up there, turn around, and drive back. It takes up an entire day and it's not fun for them. We do try to stop at the Frosty Freeze in Ezel (neighboring town) or visit Broke Leg Falls as part of the trip but sometimes we're too tired and/or broke to do so.
Now, we try to go during the big holidays. I don't think there is a right way or a wrong way to visit your child's grave. Some people find comfort in going a lot, others can't stand the thought of going. Many a night I have wanted to go and lie down beside it and I might if it was closer.
|Toby's grave, Nana's grave, and my baby cousin's grave|
Pete and I will be buried next to Toby. We'll probably be surrounded by family. As it is, I try to say hello to my Nana, Uncle Lindon, and other family members when I'm there.
|one of my favorite headstones. This person is READY.|
On a funny note...
When I say that the cemetery is out in the middle of nowhere, I mean it. There is nothing nearby. As a kid, when I would go to visit Nana's grave I would inevitably have to pee as soon as I got there. On the far side of the property, there is a large tree. (Don't worry, it's in the forest-there aren't any graves anywhere near it.) I'd have to go behind it. Now, Sam almost always has to go when we get there so he uses the tree. That tree has seen pee from at least two generations. I hope that's not my legacy.