Monday, December 7, 2009

Running through the Cemetery

Yes, I like to run through the cemetery in my tiny town of Santaquin, Utah. I have a regular route which I've clocked so that I run a distance equivalent to a 5K.
I even ran through the cemetery on Halloween and it wasn't scary at all! In fact, I enjoy looking at different headstones, so many that have a gold pioneer emblem reminding us that they helped settle this rugged country.

All of the beautiful snow today means that I probably won't be running through the cemetery for a few months and that makes me sad. The treadmill just isn't the same.

But this post isn't just about running. I wanted to share some pictures that I took on Thanksgiving day when I took my family for a little walk to see our cemetery. A few weeks before on a sunny Saturday I ran through the cemetery and took a different path than I normally choose.

As I ran past the headstones,a large marker surrounded by several smaller markers caught my eye. I decided to stop and take a look.

I walked closer to the headstone and saw the names and dates for six children belonging to Roger and Elizabeth Openshaw.

As I read the birth and death dates, I was touched by the loss these parents suffered. None of their six children reached adulthood. The oldest lived to be 18, but the rest were much younger when they died.

The details of the children's lives were etched into the headstone and then each of their names had been carved into the top of the smaller headstones surrounding it.

There were only 5 small headstones, but 6 children had died.

When I showed my family, my older sister figured out that one of the smaller headstones was missing. We looked in the grass and found the piece of cement where it used to stand.

The child missing a marker was named Dora Edna.

I felt particularly drawn to this little family and my heart hurt for the anguish these parents must have suffered. I understand that death happened much more frequently in the 1800's, but I don't think it would have made it any easier for these parents to lose one child, let alone every single one of their children.

The saddest part was when I returned with my family on Thanksgiving and showed them this headstone. We looked and were able to find Roger and Elizabeth's resting place, separate from their children. They lived several more years after their last child died. If you notice the gold pioneer emblem on their marker--it says, "Faith in every Footstep." This indicates that they traveled across the plains as pioneers.

The sacrifice that they gave to come and settle Utah as pioneers is evident. I'd just like to say how thankful I am for them, for my own ancestors, for the founders of this great nation. I love living in the West. I enjoyed growing up hearing the stories of the pioneers and their sacrifice.

When I ran home that day, I felt immensely grateful to live today, for my beautiful children and my wonderful family. Life is so precious. I don't know Roger and Elizabeth's story, but they have touched my life and made me grateful today. I can't imagine the pain of losing a child and I felt sad when I thought about Roger and Elizabeth burying six children.
I try to pay attention to moments like these--reminders of what is most important in life.
I'm going to go hold my baby now.


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