With an appointment up in Conifer, I decided to take the usual detour to visit my son Mitchell’s grave at Evergreen Memorial Park. I picked a fresh bouquet of flowers from my blooming garden and brought it with me. Fourteen years after Mitchell’s unexpected death of pneumonia at the tender age of 16 months, visiting his grave has become a familiar family tradition. We almost always go up on Christmas to sing a few songs or recite a poem. Often, we bring friends and members of our extended family to visit as well. Mitchell’s birthday on August 11 is also a time that we go up for a picnic and to enjoy the beautiful mountain vistas, the herds of buffalo and the blooming wildflowers. Over the years, the structures have changed; most notably the construction of a historic barn and event facility nearby; ponds have been added and the trees have grown taller. The tree we planted in his memory has transformed from a scrawny, scrubby Colorado pine to a towering tree much as I imagine his might be if he’d lived to be a teenager today. His cousin, Jack, who was born 11 days after Mitchell, now towers above me at age 14 ; a reminder of how tall my lost toddler might be right now.
So on this bright sunny June day, I brought my beautiful flowers and enjoyed the life abounding in the memorial park — the buffalo bathing in the pond, the singing birds, the fluttering butterflies and the colorful flowers — and considered who my bright, energetic, ball loving little boy might have been if he were alive today. Still missing my little Mitchell!