This morning began like many others. My daughter, Bella, and I went to town early to grocery shop, buy flowers, and visit the cemetery. We skipped through several songs on the way to his spot trying to find a song that held special meaning. We parked in the same place, and went through the same routine; Bella carried the jug of fresh water, and I gathered up his bunches of fresh flowers and the cemetery bag.
As we made our way to his spot, we stopped and said hello to Silvia and Joanne, like always. Bella located the ducks swimming in the pond and commented on how happy they looked, and I admired the trees along the path to his space. As we got closer to Pops space, I could tell something was out of place. Last weeks flowers were on the ground, and his vase—it was gone.
It took me a minute to digest what I was seeing. I knelt down to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. I wasn’t. After looking around to see if the vase had simply been knocked over and someone had moved it to the wrong spot, I finally accepted the fact that someone had taken it. Someone stole my Pops silver vase. Bella was upset, and she began crying. Consoling her was the only thing that kept me from losing it. She calmed down, and we continued to the task at hand. We cleaned up the mess the vase thief had left for us, swept the area, cleaned off the stone marker, and placed one of the flowers we brought by Pops’ name.
I was shaking during the entire ride home.
I’m going to explain to the vase thief what he or she took from us today—from all of us, including my Pops. I had to let several hours pass before sitting down to write this because if I had penned it when I got home, it would have been full of words like asshole and fuck.
You took me right back to the anger I have worked for over a year to calm, and that hasn’t been easy to do. Moving from a place of anger toward something that feels more like peace has been painful and difficult. My rage stems mostly from the treatment my Pops received from jerks like you. People who treated him as less than. People who took without giving; people who were cruel and selfish. My anger has been directed toward those people since I lost him to suicide, and now it’s directed at you. This place at the cemetery—his resting place—it was the one place I felt I could protect him from such people. It is the place I go to honor him, to talk to him, and visit him. It’s where I go when something awesome happens, and it’s where I go to cry. It’s the one place where no matter what is going on, or how I feel, I can go to find peace. You took that away from me today.
Pops space at the cemetery is where my kids, his grandchildren, go to talk to him. They go there to visit and tell him about school. They go there to cry too. Today when his youngest grandchild was there she cried; she cried because of your selfish deed.
Pops space is his space too. It’s the place where he is safe and honored. It’s a sacred place. And let me tell you something—he is worthy of so much more than the inconsiderate act of you stealing his vase. He deserves better. You took from him today too.
Maybe you have a loved one at the same cemetery, and perhaps you, for whatever reason, didn’t come with a vase to place flowers in for your person. However, you are not entitled to steal from someone else due to your lack of proper planning. You might have thought taking someone else’s vase was no big deal. Maybe you figured it would go unnoticed. It’s been hot this week, and I’m sure my Pops’ flowers were slightly dried out, and perhaps you thought they had been left long ago. That’s not the case, but even if it were, none of that makes what you did okay.
Maybe you’re a kid, a teenaged punk, trying to impress your friends. I’d like to think that if this is the case, your parents taught you better. I’ve never had the “don’t steal from a cemetery” talk with any of my children, but I can guarantee you none of them would ever do so. Common decency seems to be uncommon these days, and I know there are so many “role models” on TV and social media that treat nothing as sacred anymore, and maybe you followed their example. But, I’m letting you know right now that there are lines you do not cross and this is one of them. Now you know, and I expect this won’t happen again.
Just one more thing and this is the most important because we aren’t the type to play the victim card—this is what you didn’t take today:
You didn’t take away the beautiful blue sky or the sun shining down on Pops’ space.
You didn’t take the red dragonfly; he still greeted us today.
You didn’t take the ducks; they were still swimming in the pond.
You didn’t take our love for Pops, or his love for us.
You might have taken my peace for a few hours today, but I’ll bet that you’ll lose more peace over this than I will.
One more thing—if you’re the praying type, pray I never witness you stealing from a cemetery. Pray real hard I never catch you stealing from my Pops’ space.