This Friday marks the 17th anniversary of my mother in laws death. In Hebrew this is called the “Yahrzeit”. The custom in our family is to visit the grave of the deceased in the week leading up to the Yahrzeit, which is what my husband and I did on Sunday.
Nine months before my mother in law died she had accompanied me and my husband to visit the gravesites of her husband and her parents before the holiday of Rosh Hashana, which is also a time to visit. She had been fighting cancer for close to 12 years at that time, and I remember vividly her leaning on one of the headstones and saying to me, “I think the next time I come here it won’t be under my own steam.” She was right. As she and I walked among the graves that day she commented on the designs on some of the foot stones lined up around us, and mentioned she would like one with roses on it. When the time came to choose the headstone and foot stone for her we followed her wishes.
This one is unusual with its birds on a branch, but sadly reads “our beautiful daughter”
It is humbling to stand amid the graves, to hear nothing but silence, just the wind and the occasional call of a bird. To see generations buried together, to think of the lives people lived, to look at the words carved out in the stone that families have written in remembrance of their loved ones.