This grave haunts me. Praying for the dead at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Moon, I’d walked down a row and found myself among the graves at the edge of the cemetery. They were all old children’s graves, mostly from the teens and twenties of the last century. The children had lived one year, two, in a couple cases seven or eight, and one seems to have died the day he was born. The names were mostly Italian, as most of the names on the newest graves still are, a few German.
Most were marked with cheap markers. Some of those were small concrete crosses mass-produced in a mold, others just concrete blocks set in the ground. To the crosses and the blocks a small brass plate with the name and date was, or in many cases had been but was no longer, attached. A few had nicer graves, but none as nice as those in the main part. All that remained in a few cases was the stub of a broken concrete cross and a bit of the concrete block pressed into the ground. The child whose grave sits hidden in the woods has one of the nicest markers.
This one stood just outside the bounds of the cemetery. It sat in the woods, back from all the others. It was the only one in the cemetery like that. Weeds partly covered the grave till I pulled them up. You might not see it walking along the edge of the cemetery and you wouldn’t see it from a distance. The name had long ago worn off.
Friends suggested the child buried there may have been still-born or have died before being baptized. Some suggested he may have born to an unmarried woman. One suggested he may have been Native American, such was the bigotry of the time. In any case, the church had thought this child somehow could not deserve to be buried with the others. He had to be buried out of bounds, beyond the pale.
One-hundred years later, that seems stupid and cruel. People often quote Solzhenitsyn’s “Men have forgotten God” as a criticism of the time in which they live. Things like this child’s anonymous grave remind me that men have always forgotten God in some way. Whoever banished this poor child’s grave to the woods had forgotten God’s kindness and his demand that we let the little children come unto Him. They forgot He said he will give rest to the weary and heavy-burdened, like parents who have lost a child.
Please join me in praying for the child whose grave this is. It seems unlikely he has anyone else to pray for him.
David Mills is the Editor of Hour of Our Death.